The year saw continued fighting between government forces and Ansar al-Shari'a in which both sides violated international humanitarian law. Ansar al-Shari'a recklessly exposed civilians to harm by storing ammunition and explosives in crowded residential areas, launched attacks from the immediate vicinity of civilian homes, detained and ill-treated civilians, restricted access to medical care, and made extensive use of anti-personnel mines and booby traps. Government forces used air strikes, tanks, artillery and mortars, often in an indiscriminate or disproportionate manner, causing deaths and injuries among civilians, until they succeeded in driving Ansar al-Shari'a out of Abyan and the surrounding areas in late June. Government forces also obstructed access to medical treatment for the wounded and subjected suspected Ansar al-Shari'a fighters to enforced disappearance.
At the end of the year, Ansar al-Shari'a was continuing to carry out bomb and other attacks targeting government and security forces installations and officials.
US forces used unmanned drones to attack suspected supporters of al-Qa'ida in Abyan province and elsewhere, apparently with the consent of the Yemeni government. Some civilians were reported to have been killed but it was unclear whether they died in US drone strikes or attacks by Yemeni forces, and no investigations were held.
Internally displaced people
Many of those forcibly displaced due to the armed conflict in Abyan and surrounding areas were able to return to their homes by the end of the year, despite the threat posed by anti-personnel mines and other ordnance left by Ansar al-Shari'a. However, tens of thousands of other people remained internally displaced, mostly in Aden.
Reports emerged that generations of families had been held as slaves and continued to be enslaved in parts of the country. It appeared that the practice was able to continue due to a lack of state scrutiny.
At least seven people were sentenced to death and at least 28 people were executed. The real number was believed to be much higher. At least two juvenile offenders were executed for crimes allegedly committed when they were under 18. Hundreds of people were believed to be under sentence of death, including at least 25 alleged juvenile offenders.
- Fuad Ahmed Ali Abdulla was executed in Ta'izz prison on 18 January; he was convicted of a murder committed in 2004 when he was under 18.
- Hind al-Barati was executed in Sana'a Central Prison on 3 December; she was convicted of a murder committed when she was believed to have been 15.
Amnesty International visits/reports
- Amnesty International delegates visited Yemen in June/July and December. They had not previously been allowed access to Yemen since January 2011.
- Yemen's immunity law: Breach of international obligations (MDE 31/007/2012)
- Conflict in Yemen: Abyan's darkest hour (MDE 31/010/2012)
- Yemen: Human rights agenda for change (MDE 31/012/2012)