Sunday, 18 November, 2018

UN report on human rights situation in Yemen since 2014 (Part 5)

A child suffering from cholera has his arm measured by a health professional with a Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) measuring tape to determine whether or not he is also suffering from malnutrition, at the Alsadaqah Hospital, Aden, Yemen, Monday 14 August 2017.

The world’s worst acute outbreak of acute watery diarrhea and cholera continues spreading in Yemen. Between late-April and July 2017, 436,625 suspected cases and 1,915 deaths had been reported in 21 of 22 governorates. Health, water and sanitation systems are struggling to function as a result of the ongoing conflict, and lack of regular salary payments for many public sector workers have created the ideal conditions for the disease to spread.

As part of efforts to halt the spread of AWD/cholera, UNICEF and its partners are reaching out to communities through a nationwide awareness campaign. Across Yemen, thousands of volunteers are going from house to house to raise awareness and provide advice to families on how they can best protect themselves from the potentially fatal infection. The teams provide 15 to 20 minutes of counselling, followed by demonstrations on how to properly wash hands with soap before eating food or after going to the bathroom. They also stress the importance of boiling water before drinking. The campaign is expected to reach 3.5 million families across the country.

Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights containing the findings of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts and a summary of technical assistance provided by the Office of the High Commissioner to the National Commission of Inquiry

Summary

The present report is being submitted to the Human Rights Council in accordance with Council resolution 36/31. Part I of the report contains the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen. Part II provides an account of the technical assistance provided by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the National Commission of Inquiry into abuses and violations of human rights in Yemen.

E. Violations of international law

1. Attacks affecting civilians

27. From March 2015 to June 2018, there were at least 16,706 civilian casualties, with 6,475 killed and 10,231 injured in the conflict; however, the real figure is likely to be significantly higher.

28. Coalition air strikes have caused most of the documented civilian casualties. In the past three years, such air strikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities. The Group of Experts has investigated 13 such incidents by interviewing victims, witnesses and other credible sources; analysing satellite imagery, photographs and videos; and visiting sites in the Hudaydah, Sa’dah and Sana’a governorates.

29. Residential areas have repeatedly been hit by air strikes, often resulting in significant destruction and civilian casualties. In 60 cases, the Group of Experts reviewed air strikes that hit residential areas, killing more than 500 civilians, including 84 women and 233 children. The Group investigated the 25 August 2017 air strikes that hit a residential building in the Faj ‘Attan area of the city of Sana’a, killing at least 15 civilians and injuring another 25, including 7 women and 11 children. It also investigated the 20 December 2017 incident in the Bab Najran area of the Sa’dah Governorate in which three coalition air strikes hit a family home, killing at least 12 civilians, including at least 3 women and 3 children.

30. In 29 incidents, the Group of Experts reviewed air strikes hitting public spaces, including attacks on targets in densely populated areas that killed more than 300 civilians. The Group investigated two incidents where air strikes hit hotels. The 23 August 2017 air strike in the Bayt Athri area of the Arhab district, Sana’a Governorate, and the 1 November 2017 air strikes that hit a hotel in Al Layl market in Sa’dah Governorate combined killed more than 50 male civilians and injured another 50. In each case, at least 12 boys were among the casualties.

31. The Group of Experts has also reviewed 11 incidents where air strikes hit marketplaces. In a particularly egregious case, on 15 March 2016, coalition air strikes on Khamees market in the Mastaba district of the Hajjah Governorate killed more than 100 civilians, including 25 children. Since the establishment of the Group’s mandate, at least five markets have been struck. The Group investigated the 26 December 2017 air strikes on the Mahsees Market in Ta’izz Governorate, which killed at least 36 male civilians and injured another 46.

32. Funerals and weddings have also been affected. The Group of Experts reviewed five air strikes involving such gatherings. The 8 October 2016 attack on Al-Kubra Hall in the city of Sana’a during the funeral of the father of a senior official killed at least 137 civilians and injured 695, including 24 boys. The Group investigated the coalition air strike on 22 April 2018 that hit a wedding celebration in Al-Raqah village, in the Bani Qa’is district of the Hajjah Governorate. At least 23 male civilians were killed, including 8 boys.

33. The Group of Experts reviewed four air strikes that hit detention facilities since the beginning of the conflict, including the 29 October 2016 air strikes on the Security Directorate Prison in the Al Zaidia district of the Hudaydah Governorate, which killed at least 63 male civilians, mainly detainees. The Group investigated the 13 December 2017 coalition air strikes on a detention facility at a military police camp in the city of Sana’a that killed at least 42 male civilians, some detainees, including 8 boys.

34. In 11 air strikes hitting civilian boats off the shores of Hudaydah from November 2015 until May 2018, of which 9 were reviewed and 2 investigated by the Group of Experts, approximately 40 fishermen were killed or disappeared. In another incident examined by the Group in which coalition aircraft targeted a boat carrying refugees on 17 March 2017, a total of 32 Somali refugees, including 11 Somali women, and 1 Yemeni civilian were killed, and another 10 persons were reported missing.

35. Despite the special protection afforded to medical facilities and educational, cultural and religious sites under international humanitarian law, many such facilities and sites have been damaged or destroyed by coalition air strikes throughout the conflict. The Group of Experts reviewed information concerning at least 32 such incidents. It received credible information that the no-strike list of protected objects was not being adequately shared within the coalition command chain.

36. Several air strikes have damaged facilities operated by Médecins sans frontières, including a clinic in the Houban district of the Ta’izz Governorate, hit on 2 December 2015; an ambulance in the Sa’dah Governorate, struck on 21 January 2016; and a hospital in the Abs district of the Hajjah Governorate, hit on 15 August 2016. All the locations of the Médecins sans frontières facilities had been shared with the coalition and the ambulance was clearly marked. On 11 June 2018, Médecins sans frontières reported that an air strike had hit a new cholera treatment centre in the Abs district of Hajjah Governorate. It indicated that the coordinates of the facility had been shared with the coalition on 12 separate occasions.

37. The specific cases investigated by the Group of Experts raise serious concerns about the targeting process applied by the coalition. The Group submitted a request to the coalition for specific information on this process; regrettably, it has not received any response to date. The brief public reports by the coalition’s Joint Incidents Assessment Team do not provide any detail on the targeting process. Therefore, the Group has been limited to examining the results of air strikes.

38. Based on the incidents examined, and information received in relation to the targeting process, the Group of Experts have reasonable grounds to believe the following:   (a) In the absence of any apparent military objective in the vicinity, the objects struck raise serious concerns about the respect of the principle of distinction and how military targets were defined and selected. The use of precision-guided munitions would normally indicate that the object struck was the target;  (b) The number of civilian casualties raises serious concerns as to the nature and effectiveness of any proportionality assessments conducted;  (c) The timing of some attacks and the choice of weapons raise serious concerns as to the nature and effectiveness of any precautionary measures adopted;  (d) The failure to ensure that all relevant commanders have access to the nostrike list raises serious concerns about the ability of the coalition to comply with the special protections accorded to such objects;  (e) The use in some cases of “double strikes” close in time, which affect first responders, raises serious concerns as to whether updated proportionality assessments and precautionary measures were carried out for the second strikes.

39. If there are errors in the targeting process that effectively remove the protections provided by international humanitarian law, these would amount to violations. These may, depending on the circumstances, amount to war crimes by individuals at all levels in the member States of the coalition and the Government, including civilian officials.

40. Shelling and sniper attacks by parties to the conflict have resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties in the Hajjah, Lahij, Ma’rib and Ta’izz governates. The Group of Experts focused on such attacks in the city of Ta’izz, an urban environment with some of the most intense and sustained fighting in the country. The Group could not access Ta’izz for security reasons, but obtained information from numerous reliable sources.

41. The situation in Ta’izz is complicated due to the large number of armed groups operating in the city, including Houthi-Saleh forces, pro-Hadi forces, Salafist militias, Islah militias and jihadist groups. Many parties fighting in Ta’izz have been responsible for civilian casualties. While the constant clashes have resulted in shifting front lines within the city, the Houthi-Saleh forces have maintained control of the highlands surrounding the city since the start of the conflict. The Group of Experts gathered reports of shelling by HouthiSaleh forces from the highlands and areas of the city under their control resulting in the majority of civilian casualties. However, the breakdown of responsibility for civilian casualties in Ta’izz requires further investigation.

42. The information available indicates that civilians, including women and children, were hit by shelling and snipers from the Houthi-Saleh forces and other parties to the conflict while in their homes, just outside their homes, fetching water at local wells, on their way to purchase food, travelling to seek medical attention and delivering critical supplies. Some witnesses alleged that they were subjected to almost daily attacks in their residential neighbourhoods.

43. A large number of witnesses consistently reported that incoming fire from mortar, artillery and small arms originated from Tabat Softel Hill, Al-Salal Hill, Air Defence Hill Central Security Hill, and the Al-Khalwah, Al-Hareer, Al-Houd, Al-Salheen and AlQohous mountains, all under the control of the Houthi-Saleh forces when the attacks took place.

44. A small number of victims were caught in crossfire, but many said they were not near active hostilities or near military forces or objects when they were hit, and witnesses were often able to corroborate this information.

45. The Group of Experts is concerned by the alleged use by the Houthi-Saleh forces of weapons with wide area effect in a situation of urban warfare, as the use of such weapons in an urban setting is indiscriminate. Such acts would be violations of international humanitarian law.

2. Access restrictions

46. Restrictions on humanitarian access remained a critical constraint in Yemen. International humanitarian law requires all parties to the conflict to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief, including medicine, food and other survival items.

47. The coalition has imposed severe naval and air restrictions in Yemen, to varying degrees, since March 2015, citing the arms embargo provisions of Security Council resolution 2216 (2015). Prior to the conflict, Yemen imported nearly 90 per cent of its food, medical supplies and fuel. These de facto blockades have had widespread and devastating effects on the civilian population, in particular in the areas controlled by the de facto authorities.

48. Following the imposition of severe restrictions, the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism was established to facilitate commercial shipping to Red Sea ports not under the control of the Government. The coalition nonetheless maintained an additional inspection process, and has denied entry to vessels on a seemingly arbitrary basis. The coalition has not produced a written list of prohibited items, and items are sometimes blocked without warning. While clearance by the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism has taken an average of 28 hours, the additional coalition clearance process can take several weeks.

49. On 6 November 2017, in response to missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Houthi forces, the coalition imposed a total blockade on all the borders of Yemen, preventing all humanitarian aid and commercial trade, including food and fuel, from entering the country. After the coalition announced that it would allow urgent humanitarian and relief materials to enter, the first shipments of food reached Hudaydah on 26 November. The first vessel containing fuel entered on 22 December. In April 2018, the coalition announced that all ports were reopened; however, as of June 2018, restrictions remain.

50. The arbitrary nature of restrictions, compounded by the November blockade, has had a clear chilling effect on commercial shipping.

51. The impact of these developments on the civilian population has been immense. The accessibility of food and fuel has significantly declined, due to increased costs of bringing goods to markets. These costs have been passed on to consumers, rendering the limited goods available unaffordable for the majority of the population. The problem has been exacerbated by the Government’s non-payment of public sector salaries, affecting one quarter of the population, since August 2016. The effects of the price increases coupled with the erosion of their purchasing power have been disastrous for the population.

52. The harm to the civilian population caused by severely restricting naval imports was foreseeable, given the country’s pre-conflict reliance on imports. By November 2017, the international community had repeatedly underscored the effects of the existing restrictions and had warned of the catastrophic effects of the announced closure of all ports. The duration of the restrictions raises additional concerns that systemic damage to the economy is occurring.

53. As of April 2018, nearly 17.8 million people were food insecure and 8.4 million were on the brink of famine. Health-care facilities were not functioning, clean water was less accessible and Yemen was still suffering from the largest outbreak of cholera in recent history.

54. Despite their significant impact on civilians, these restrictions are unlikely to be effective in achieving their stated military objectives due to the absence of a clear and published list of prohibited items. Moreover, in the three years that the naval restrictions have been in place, no searches by either the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism or coalition forces have discovered weapons.

55. The coalition and the Government have had sufficient notice of the harm caused and their responsibility for it, and sufficient opportunity to correct the situation. No possible military advantage could justify such sustained and extreme suffering of millions of people. The coalition has failed to cancel or suspend the restrictions, as required under international law.

56. On 9 August 2016, the coalition effectively closed Sana’a International Airport to commercial traffic. This has prevented thousands of Yemenites from seeking medical care abroad. In the meantime, the health-care system in Yemen has disintegrated. Those who are chronically ill and need to leave the country must attempt alternative routes that require long journeys across active front lines at high risk and at high costs. For example, on 31 August 2017, the founder of the Yemen Red Crescent Society died because he could not obtain the life-saving treatment he needed in Yemen and could not travel abroad for such treatment. Since August 2016, only United Nations and humanitarian flights have been permitted at Sana’a International Airport, and during the November 2017 blockade even those were halted for more than three weeks.

57. Prior to August 2016, commercial flights to Yemen were required to stop in Saudi Arabia for inspection en route. The coalition has not explained the military necessity of closing the airport completely, including to those genuinely seeking immediate medical treatment abroad.

58. There are reasonable grounds to believe that these naval and air restrictions are imposed in violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. The Government is required to achieve progressively the full realization of the economic and social rights of the people in Yemen and to at least ensure satisfaction of minimum standards of these rights. The Government and the member States of the coalition must also allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief. Given the severe humanitarian impact that the de facto blockades have had on the civilian population and in the absence of any verifiable military impact, they constitute a violation of the proportionality rule of international humanitarian law. The effective closure of Sana’a airport is a violation of international humanitarian law protections for the sick and wounded.

59. Such acts, together with the requisite intent, may amount to international crimes. As these restrictions are planned and implemented as the result of State policies, individual criminal responsibility would lie at all responsible levels, including the highest levels, of government of the member States of the coalition and Yemen.

60. Ta’izz, a strategically important city located between Sana’a and the port cities of Aden and Hudaydah, is facing ongoing hostilities and significant access restrictions. Parties to the conflict have impeded the delivery of humanitarian and other goods indispensable to the survival of the civilian population in Ta’izz. The restrictions imposed by the HouthiSaleh forces have been particularly harmful.

61. From approximately March 2015 until March 2016, the Houthi-Saleh forces controlled the two main entry points into Ta’izz, one on the west side of the city and one on the east. From March to July 2015, there were continuous armed clashes between these forces and local armed groups within the city. Checkpoint commanders only permitted civilians to leave the city without their personal belongings. Civilians could only enter the city on foot and much of their food and medicine was confiscated or looted at checkpoints. Trucks carrying humanitarian supplies were subject to substantial delays and other interference. Consequently, suppliers of humanitarian and commercial goods began using an unpaved mountainous route south of the city to deliver essential supplies. Trips from Ibb or Aden took many hours longer using the southern route.

62. In August 2015, as pro-government forces moved north after retaking Aden, the restrictions imposed by the Houthi-Saleh forces became acute. Snipers were used to enforce the restrictions.

63. Following his visit to Ta’izz in January 2016, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator noted challenges to humanitarian access to three districts within the city that had lasted several months.

64. Based on the information available, during the period July 2015 to January 2016, when they were at their most severe, the restrictions imposed by the Houthi-Saleh forces appear to have been in violation of international law. However, further investigation on restrictions and impediments imposed by all parties in Ta’izz is required.

3. Arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment

65. Investigations by the Group of Experts confirm widespread arbitrary detention throughout the country, and ill-treatment and torture in some facilities. In most cases, detainees were not informed of the reasons for their arrest, were not charged, were denied access to lawyers or a judge and were held incommunicado for prolonged or indefinite periods. Some remain missing. Parties to the conflict are using undeclared detention facilities in an apparent, and if confirmed unlawful, attempt to put detainees outside the reach of the law. A few individuals detained in areas under the control of the de facto authorities reported that they had been brought before tribunals where proceedings flouted basic due process standards, including the right to legal representation. In Aden and Mukalla, detainees have carried out hunger strikes protesting the absence of due process. Death sentences have been passed and implemented in Sana’a and Aden, in the absence of due process standards.

66. In detention, during interrogation and while blindfolded and/or handcuffed, detainees were beaten, electrocuted, suspended upside down, drowned, threatened with violence against their families and held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods in violation of the absolute prohibition on torture, cruel or inhuman treatment. Reports indicate poor material conditions and grossly inadequate medical care for detainees. The Group has also received allegations of deaths in custody.

67. The Group of Experts conducted interviews related to detention by forces affiliated with the Government, as well as by coalition forces, and visited Al Mansoura Prison and Al Mansoura Block B (known as Bir Ahmed Prison II) in Aden.

68. The criminal justice system had become largely defunct in the areas where progovernment forces reclaimed control. Coalition-backed forces were empowered to fill the void, resulting in widespread arbitrary detention. Hundreds of individuals have been detained for perceived opposition to the Government or to the United Arab Emirates.

69. By early 2017, consistent reports began to surface of violations committed in detention facilities or undeclared centres under the control of the United Arab Emirates. President Hadi requested the coalition to hand over all places of detention and secret prisons that had been created outside the framework of the State institutions and to deliver case files to the judicial authorities (see S/2018/242). Dozens of detainees have since been released but, as of June 2018, the Government officials still claimed very little authority over detention facilities in the south.

70. Detainees have been subjected to torture and other cruel treatment in facilities such as the Al Rayyan and Bureiqa facilities (controlled by the United Arab Emirates); the 7 October facility in Abyan, Lahij Central Prison and Al Mansoura Prison (controlled by Security Belt Forces); and Ma’rib Political Security (controlled by the Government).

71. The Group of Experts also investigated sexual violence, including rape of adult male detainees, committed by United Arab Emirates personnel. At the Bureiqa coalition facility, detainees described being interrogated while naked, bound and blindfolded, sexually assaulted and raped. At Bir Ahmed Prison, forces of the United Arab Emirates raided the facility and perpetrated sexual violence. In March 2018, nearly 200 detainees were stripped naked in a group while personnel of the United Arab Emirates forcibly examined their anuses. During this search, multiple detainees were raped digitally and with tools and sticks.

72. In the context of naval operations around Hudaydah Governorate, Saudi Arabian forces routinely arrested Yemeni fishermen. The Group of Experts investigated cases that occurred between October 2016 and April 2018 in which 148 fishermen were arrested by coalition forces. Victims were taken to detention facilities in Saudi Arabia and remained incommunicado. Many were beaten and interrogated and some were kept in solitary confinement for prolonged periods. Most have been released, but 18 fishermen, all held for more than one year, remain missing.

73. The Group has reasonable grounds to believe that the Governments of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are responsible for human rights violations, including enforced disappearance. As most of these violations appear to be conflict related, they may amount to the following war crimes: rape, degrading and cruel treatment, torture and outrages upon personal dignity.

74. The Group conducted interviews, including with former detainees, related to detention by the de facto authorities, and visited Sana’a Central Prison. Access to the National Security Bureau and the Political Security Organization in Sana’a was conditioned by the de facto authorities on guarantees that the facilities visited would not be targeted by air strikes. The visits therefore did not take place as the Group of Experts was not in a position to offer such guarantees.

75. From September 2014, the de facto authorities consolidated control of detention facilities previously run by the Government as they seized territory, including in Sana’a, Sa’dah, Ibb, Hudaydah and parts of Ta’izz. They appointed “supervisors” in detention facilities, relieving existing authorities of their duties or rendering them redundant. Furthermore, they turned mosques, schools and homes confiscated from political opponents into undeclared detention centres.

76. Detainees include individuals perceived to be opposed to the de facto authorities, including students, human rights defenders, journalists and supporters of political parties.

77. Baha’is have also been targeted. The Group of Experts is aware of several Baha’is detained in Sana’a on the basis of their faith, some for more than two years. In 2018, another Baha’i, detained since 2013, was sentenced to death in Sana’a after a hearing neither he nor his family were allowed to attend. The same ruling also disbanded all Baha’i assemblies. The de facto authorities denied the Group’s request to visit the victim in detention. In a televised speech on 23 March 2018, the leader of the Houthis described the Baha’i faith as “satanic” and “engaged in a war against Islam”.

78. The Group of Experts received information concerning ill-treatment and torture of detainees at the national security bureau, the Political Security Organization, the Criminal Investigation Department and in the Habrah and Al-Thawra prisons in Sana’a, among other facilities under the control of the de facto authorities.

79. A significant number of former detainees believed they had been released as part of detainee exchange agreements between parties to the conflict.

80. The Group of Experts has reasonable grounds to believe that the de facto authorities are responsible for international human rights violations. Where these violations by the de facto authorities are associated with the armed conflict, they may amount to the following war crimes: degrading and cruel treatment, torture and outrages upon personal dignity.

4. Violations of freedom of expression

81. The Group of Experts has reasonable grounds to believe that, since September 2014, parties to the conflict in Yemen have severely restricted the right to freedom of expression. In addition, human rights defenders have faced relentless harassment, threats and smear campaigns from the Government, coalition forces, including those of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the de facto authorities.

82. In this climate, women human rights defenders, journalists and activists have faced specific repression on the basis of gender. The Group has documented at least 20 such cases committed by parties to the conflict. Many women faced threats from all sides, suggesting that discrimination against women is endemic.

83. The coalition continued to impede the work of international media and human rights organizations by preventing their personnel from using United Nations flights since at least early 2017. Consequently, such independent observers can only take commercial flights to government-controlled areas and then must travel by land across dangerous front lines to other areas. Given the inherent insecurity, this measure by the coalition impedes independent and credible coverage of the situation in Yemen, and contributes to global neglect of the conflict.

84. Since 2016, in areas under their control, pro-government forces have harassed media and monitors by censoring television channels and raiding civil society organizations. The situation appears to have deteriorated since August 2017, with Security Belt Forces in Aden and the elite forces in the Hadramawt and Shabwah governorates intimidating those perceived to be critical of the United Arab Emirates and the forces backed by that country. In this context, journalists and demonstrators alike have been detained for peaceful protests complaining about detention practices and for publicly criticizing military operations. Furthermore, following the consolidation of actors allied to the Southern Transitional Council, backed by the United Arab Emirates, media perceived to be associated with the pro-Hadi elements of the Government have been targeted, such as a newspaper in Aden whose offices were stormed and burned in March 2018.

85. Since 2015, in areas under their control, the de facto authorities have carried out intimidation, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and torture of vocal critics, in addition to raids on media outlets in Sana’a. Furthermore, they have blocked news websites, censored television channels and banned newspapers from publication. They have also raided or closed the premises of a large number of civil society organizations. Victims were targeted for their affiliation or perceived affiliation to political opponents or for having expressed their views in relation to the ongoing conflict. The de facto authorities have also frozen the assets, including bank accounts, of at least two non-governmental organizations; in one case, the account remains blocked. The Group of Experts is aware of at least 23 journalists who are still being detained by the de facto authorities. Most of them are allegedly held at the Political Security Organization and at the national security bureau in Sana’a, while others are believed to be in unofficial detention centres in Dhamar and Ibb. The whereabouts of several of these journalists are unknown.

5. Sexual violence

86. New levels of sexual violence have proliferated in Yemen since September 2014. The already limited capacity to address sexual and gender-based violence in the criminal justice system has collapsed. Survivors are re-victimized. New vulnerabilities have emerged from displacement, poverty and indiscriminate violence. Women, children and men are at serious risk of all forms of sexual violence and there is limited space to pursue protection and justice.

87. The Group of Experts investigated cases of sexual violence in the Bureiqa migrant detention centre in Aden. The facility housed several hundred Eritrean, Ethiopian and Somali migrants, asylum seekers and refugees who had been rounded up and detained by the Security Belt Forces. Conditions in the detention facility were dire. Rapes and sexual assault reportedly occurred in various parts of the facility, often in full view of other detainees, including family members, and guards. Survivors and witnesses described to the experts how each night guards selected women and boys for abuse. One former detainee described a guardroom with three beds where several guards assaulted several women simultaneously. Women were told to submit to rape or commit suicide. Others reported that individuals trying to resist or intervene were beaten, shot or killed. At least once guards ordered hundreds of Ethiopian male detainees to stand naked for hours in front of dozens of Ethiopian female detainees as punishment. Reportedly, verbal threats of rape accompanied the punishment.

88. In early April 2018, the Minister of the Interior publicly claimed to have dismissed the commander of the Bureiqa migrant detention centre from his position. All migrants were released by May 2018, but a new facility was being opened in Lahij Governorate.

89. The Group has also investigated allegations of sexual violence committed by Security Belt Forces in the Al Basateen area of the Dar Saad district of Aden. Since 2017, Security Belt Forces have controlled the area from a base in Al Basateen Police Station. The area hosts a population of at least 40,000 refugees, internally displaced persons and marginalized Yemenites. A majority of the population are Somali refugees who have been in Yemen for many years.

90. Victims and witnesses described to the Group of Experts persistent and pervasive aggressive behaviour, including sexual violence, perpetrated by the Security Belt Forces against the population. Examples include rape, arrest or abduction, disappearances and extortion.

91. One common practice involved security forces abducting and raping women, or threatening to, as a way to extort money from their families and communities. Security forces reportedly entered homes at night and took women to rape. Community leaders estimated receiving steady reports of sexual violence every few nights. The authorities did not conduct investigations or make arrests in relation to these violations. Violations continued as of May 2018.

92. There are reasonable grounds to believe that government personnel and Security Belt Forces have committed rape and other forms of serious sexual violence targeting vulnerable groups, including foreign migrants, internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups, including women and children. The Government is responsible for violations of international human rights law and, as these appear to be conflict-related, international humanitarian law. Other States may also have responsibility.

93. Furthermore, individuals may be responsible for the war crimes of committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence.

94. In addition to the foregoing, the Group of Experts has received allegations of sexual violence committed by several parties to the conflict in Yemen, dating from 2015 to 2018. The violations verified in the present report are indicators that there may be more sexual violence by parties to the conflict requiring further investigation.

6. Child recruitment and use

95. The Secretary-General reported 842 verified cases of recruitment and use of boys as young as 11 years old in Yemen in 2017 (see A/72/865-S/2018/465). Nearly two thirds of these cases were attributed to the Houthi-Saleh Forces, with a substantial increase in the number attributed to the Security Belt Forces and the Yemen Armed Forces as compared with 2016. The United Nations also documented the deprivation of liberty of boys by armed forces and groups for their alleged association with opposing parties. The Group’s investigations into the recruitment and use of children revealed similar concerns.

96. The Group of Experts received substantial information indicating that the Government, the coalition-backed forces and the Houthi-Saleh forces have all conscripted or enlisted children into armed forces or groups and used them to participate actively in hostilities. In most cases, the children were between 11 and 17 years old, but there have been consistent reports of the recruitment or use of children as young as 8 years old. The Group found reliable information on the use of children in many conflict-affected governorates.

97. According to witnesses and sources, in some areas Houthi-Saleh forces forcibly recruited children in schools, hospitals and door to door. In other areas, Houthi-Saleh forces relied on appeals to patriotism and financial incentives to attract child recruits. Moreover, Houthi-Saleh forces have used children in combat, at checkpoints and to plant explosive devices.

98. Sources alleged that pro-government forces recruited particularly vulnerable children in the internally displaced camps in Ma’rib, and offered significant payments for child recruits. Pro-government forces frequently used children in support roles, although they have also been used in combat on the front lines, such as in Shabwah and Hudaydah.

There have also been credible allegations that government and coalition forces detained children fighting with Houthi-Saleh forces and used them in prisoner exchanges.

99. While parties in Yemen expressed opinions to the contrary, the instruments that Yemen has ratified remain binding, and these acts would constitute violations of international human rights law and, in some cases, violations of international humanitarian law and war crimes.

Follow this report in the next part…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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