UN concerned about Houthis’ public execution of 9 men based on a trial that did not meet fair trial standards
Geneva, 21 September 2021
Translated and edited by: The Committee for Justice
The Spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Marta Hurtado, expressed her grave concern about the situation in Yemen, where all parties to the conflict continue to violate international human rights and humanitarian law, with little regard for basic rule of law principles.
“Across the country, civilians are paying a heavy price as armed groups control territory and exercise authority in complete disregard for human rights and international humanitarian law,”
Hurtado said in a statement published at Media Center of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The spokesperson explained that a recent example of this is; What happened on Saturday 18 September, when the Houthis, publicly executed nine men, including one who was allegedly a minor at the time of his arrest. The nine men were accused of participating three years ago in the assassination of Saleh Ali Al-Samad, president of the Supreme Political Council of the de facto authorities in Sanaa, who was killed in an airstrike. The nine were sentenced to death in a judicial process that violated their constitutional rights and did not respect fair trial standards under international law.
Hurtado stated that the reports indicated that the defendants were tortured and forced to sign confessions. In addition, they were deprived of their right to legal aid, at several stages of the proceedings, and the request of a lawyer for the younger defendants to conduct a medical assessment with the aim of confirming his age, in flagrant violation of Yemeni legislation and human rights standards.
The spokesperson for the High Commissioner stressed her total opposition to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, noting that international law sets very strict conditions for the application of the death penalty, noting that the execution of juvenile offenders is unequivocally prohibited under international law, regardless of the circumstances and nature of the crime committed. In the context of any armed conflict, execution without judicial guarantees is a violation of international humanitarian law and amounts to a war crime.
Hurtado stated that another concern is the repeated use of drones and missile attacks by the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition, which have resulted in civilian casualties and damage or destruction of civilian objects, in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Hurtado noted that any attacks directed against civilian objects or against civilians not directly participating in hostilities may amount to a war crime, and called on all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and to conduct investigations with a view to holding those responsible to account for any violations.
The spokesperson for the High Commissioner also emphasized that the authorities should never use live ammunition except as a last resort and against individuals who pose an imminent threat to life or threaten to cause serious injury, adding that: “Only law enforcement officials trained in the policing of assemblies, including on the relevant human rights standards, should be deployed for that purpose and all law enforcement officials responsible for policing assemblies must be suitably equipped.”
In the conclusion of her statement, she stressed that in any armed conflict, any state of emergency or declared curfew, the government or the de facto authorities do not exempt the government of its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.