Saudi Arabia Rejects Call for UN Probe Into Yemen War Crimes

Saudi Arabia Rejects Call for UN Probe Into Yemen War CrimesSaudi Arabia Rejects Call for UN Probe Into Yemen War Crimes

Saudi Arabia has insisted the time is not right for an independent international inquiry into the war in Yemen, despite growing evidence of human rights violations caused by the US-backed Saudi campaign against the Houthis.

The Saudi representative to the UN human rights council in Geneva, Abdulaziz Alwasil, said a national Yemeni commission was in a better position to investigate the war, and said he hoped for a “compromise” with the UN high commissioner of human rights’ demands for an independent probe, Middle East Monitor reported.

“We are working together to hopefully come to a compromise,” Alwasil said.

“We have no objection to the inquiry itself, we just have a discussion about the timing, whether this is the right time to establish an international commission, with the difficulties on the ground.”

The Netherlands and Canada are backing a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council mandating an international inquiry.

The UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein said on Monday that the UN had verified 5,144 civilian deaths in the war, mainly from airstrikes by the Saudi coalition, and an international investigation was urgently needed.

“The minimal efforts made towards accountability over the past year are insufficient to respond to the gravity of the continuing and daily violations involved in this conflict,” Zeid said in a speech in Geneva.

The coalition is accused by rights groups of possible war crimes in Yemen, with evidence mounting of the deliberate bombing of schools, hospitals and civilian infrastructure in its campaign to support the fugitive president, Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Saudi Arabia has also enforced blockade on Yemen, making entry or exit near impossible without Saudi approval.

In a joint open letter last year, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs called for the HRC to “establish an international, independent mechanism to investigate alleged serious violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law committed” in Yemen.

The British government, a principal backer of Saudi Arabia, refused attempts by the Netherlands last year for an independent inquiry —leading to the Netherlands’ proposal being watered down to suggest the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) dispatch a mission to monitor Yemen.

The UK has approved the sale of more than $4billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia since it entered the war in 2015.

High estimates suggest more than 10,000 people have been killed in the war in Yemen, 600,000 have been infected with cholera and aid groups estimate half the country is on the brink of famine.


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