Yemen: UN concerned about long-standing strike by Judiciary and its impact on individual’s right to access to justice
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: 8 May 2022
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, stressed that the longstanding strike by the judiciary in the southern governorates of Yemen has impeded the individual’s right to access justice and obtain effective compensation, which may constitute a violation of the right to a fair trial for the Yemeni people.
Strike due to violation of the appointment of the Attorney General
The Special Rapporteur sent a UN memorandum to the Yemeni government on March 3, 2022, which has not yet been responded to. It included allegations of a longstanding strike by the judiciary in the southern governorates of Yemen, as well as the forced closure of judicial facilities that affect access to justice and the right to a fair trial in the country, due to the appointment of the new Attorney General of Yemen, which prompted the judges to mobilize and strike in order to preserve the independence of the judiciary.
On 4 February 2021, the Southern Judges Club (STC) announced the suspension of work and the closure of all courts and prosecutions in the Aden and surrounding governorates (Abyan – Lahj – Al-Dhalea). This strike was later extended to the entire former South Yemen. The alleged reasons for the strike include: a) the appointment of the Attorney General without following legislation in the country related to this appointment, b) conditions in the judiciary.
The concerns of the judges include: the lack of a medical insurance system for judges, the inadequacy of personal protection measures, the negative impact on judges’ salaries and their purchasing power since the Yemeni riyal depreciated in 2021 against the dollar from 700 to 1700, which has not been addressed, and allegations of lack of transparency in the management of funds by the Supreme Council of the Judiciary.
The UN Rapporteur expressed his concern about the allegations regarding the appointment of the Attorney General, as the information received appears to show that the appointment did not follow the legislation in the country, a fact that led to a strike in the judiciary for more than a year. In addition, the Rapporteur expressed his concerns that the events described in relation to the impact of the strike on an individual’s right to access justice and obtain effective compensation, may constitute a violation of the right to a fair trial of the Yemeni people.
UN demands from the Yemeni government
The UN rapporteur called on the Yemeni government to provide information on the measures taken to address the concerns that led to the strike of the judiciary, and information on the measures taken in Yemen to ensure that appointments to the post of attorney general meet legislative requirements.
The experts also called on Yemen to provide information on the measures taken to ensure access to justice in the country in light of the long-standing strike.