Annual Report: Yemen 2013

May 30, 2013

Annual Report: Yemen 2013

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At least 28 people were charged in connection with an attack on the presidential palace on 3 June 2011, which wounded then President Saleh and killed and wounded others, but they had not been brought to trial by the end of the year. Several were reported to have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated.


On 21 January, the government enacted an immunity law, Law No.1 of 2012, in accordance with the power-transfer agreement. The law granted former President Saleh and all those who were employed by his government immunity from criminal prosecution for “politically motivated acts” carried out in the course of their duties. Consequently, it prevented many victims of arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial execution, enforced disappearance and other violations carried out under President Saleh's long rule from obtaining justice, truth and reparation. As such, the immunity law breached Yemen's international legal obligations to investigate and prosecute crimes under international law and other human rights violations.

A draft Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation Law was under discussion. If enacted, it would provide some form of reparation to victims and survivors. However, the draft emphasized forgiveness as an element of reconciliation and did not provide justice for victims of past human rights violations.

It appeared that no judicial investigations were carried out into dozens of incidents in which protesters were killed or human rights were violated in the context of the 2011 unrest. Nor were there investigations into alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed during the internal armed conflicts in Ta'izz and other areas, such as the apparently indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks that killed civilians during fighting between government forces and armed supporters of Sadeq al-Ahmar, a tribal sheikh in Sana'a's al-Hasaba area in the second half of 2011.

However, a presidential decree issued on 22 September established a commission of inquiry into violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during the 2011 uprising, but it had not commenced at the end of the year.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

Most of those held in connection with anti-government protests in 2011 were released in early 2012. Many had been held arbitrarily by different security forces, often in unregistered detention centres, for weeks or months without charge or trial. Some were reported to have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated. At least 20 people were believed to still be arbitrarily detained or to have disappeared in connection with the 2011 protests or after arrest in 2012.

  • Al-Nahari Mohammed Ali al-Nahari, aged around 13, was released without charge in July 2012. He disappeared in May 2011 after participating in protests in Sana'a and was believed to have been held secretly by National Security. He lost his hearing in one ear after being hit repeatedly in detention.

Protest camps remained in both Ta'izz and Sana'a, where the tent city in Change Square continued to be guarded by the army's First Armoured Division, which had supported the protests but also reportedly continued to carry out arrests and hold detainees without charge or trial.

Women's and girls' rights

Women and girls continued to face discrimination in both law and practice, notably in relation to marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance, as well as high levels of domestic and other gender-specific violence.

Women became less visible in the protest camps after some were intimidated or beaten in 2011 by women apparently associated with the Islah party, a main opposition party, who objected to their joining in marches with men and protesting against the commander of the First Armoured Division.

Excessive use of force

The security forces continued to use excessive force against protesters, particularly in Aden and other southern cities, with impunity. Only two judicial investigations into killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising resulted in prosecutions.