Immunity Deal in Yemen

November 28, 2011

yemen protests
Yemeni demonstrators © Al-masdar Online

After many months of back and forth negotiations, last week President Ali Abdullah Saleh, finally singed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreement for a power-transfer. Even though the details of the full agreement have not been made public, it is widely believed that the agreement offers the president and some others government officials immunity from criminal investigation and prosecution.

Under the GCC agreement, president Saleh will retain the title of president until the new presidential election takes place within 90 days. But he will hand over some of the presidential powers to Vice-president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to implement the agreement. A member of the opposition will head a government of national reconciliation for the next two years. President Saleh, who has been in power for 33 years and has hinted at stepping down several times in the past several months, only to change course later.

Unarmed protesters have marched in different cities in Yemen opposing the deal, calling for Saleh and other officials to stand trial for their role in abuses. Over the past 10 months, more than 200 people have been killed and thousands injured as security forces and armed supporters of the president Saleh attempted to quell mostly peaceful pro-reform demonstrators.

Amnesty International and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have called for an independent, international investigation into Yemen’s ongoing human rights violations.

There cannot be a true reform and justice without accountability, and the only way to ensure accountability is to carry out an independent, international investigation into the allegations of serious crimes under international law.

As Amnesty International has said “immunity leads to impunity”