Saturday, June 24, 2017|8:02 p.m.
SANAA, Yemen– Yemen’s internationally-recognized government on Saturday ordered the production of a committee to examine allegations of human rights violations, following reports that U.S. military interrogators worked with forces from the United Arab Emirates who are implicated of torturing detainees in Yemen.
A copy of the order issued by Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Daghr was gotten by The Associated Press. It said the examination would concentrate on areas liberated by federal government forces from Shiite rebels referred to as the Houthis and their allies.
The six-member committee will be chaired by Justice Minister Jamal Mohamed Omar and consist of representatives from the Human Rights Ministry, security firms and the prosecution. It will right away start work and have 15 days to conclude its investigation and report back to bin Daghr.
The reports of the abuses were exposed in an AP examination released Thursday. The investigation detailed a network of secret prisons across southern Yemen where hundreds are detained in the hunt for al-Qaida militants. American defense officials stated U.S. forces have interrogated some detainees in Yemen but denied any involvement in, or knowledge of, human rights abuses.
Defense authorities informed the AP that the department had actually looked into reports of abuse and concluded that its personnel were not involved or familiar with any abuses. The American authorities validated that the United States supplies concerns to the Emiratis and gets transcripts of their interrogations. The authorities said the United States also offers details to the UAE on presumed al-Qaida militants that the United States believes must be apprehended or questioned.
The 18 lock-ups discussed in the AP examination are run by the UAE and by Yemeni forces it produced, according to accounts from former detainees, families of prisoners, civil liberties lawyers and Yemeni military officials. At the Riyan airport in the southern Yemeni city of Mukalla, previous inmates explained delivering containers smeared with feces and crammed with blindfolded detainees. They said they were beaten, roasted alive on a spit and sexually assaulted, to name a few abuses. One witness, who belongs to a Yemeni security force, stated American forces were at times just yards (meters) away.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Friday that the claims are “completely incorrect” and a “political video game” by Yemeni militias to discredit a Saudi-led coalition that consists of the UAE and which has actually been fighting because 2015 on the side of the internationally-recognized government against the rebels. It states it does not run or supervise any prisons in Yemen, which any such centers are under “the jurisdiction of the legitimate Yemeni authorities.”
Most of the clandestine websites are run by either the Hadramawt Elite or Security Belt, Yemeni forces that were produced, trained and funded by the UAE. Officially, they are under the authority of Yemen’s internationally-recognized government, however several Yemeni government officials informed the AP they have no control over them and they answer to the Emiratis.
It was not right away clear whether the committee established on Saturday by the Yemeni government would gain access to any of the lockups and whether its findings could result in action that may end the abuses. Yemeni rights legal representatives and activists were doubtful about the outcome, stating they did not expect leaders of the two UAE-backed military outfits to meaningfully help in the investigation.
Relations between Saudi-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the UAE have actually been laden with tension, mainly over accusations by the Yemeni leader that the Emiratis are offering patronage to southern Yemeni political leaders campaigning for secession along with what he sees as UAE infractions of his country’s sovereignty.
In Washington, pressure has been installing on the United States Defense Department after several U.S. senators required investigations into the reports, with John McCain, Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Providers Committee, and the ranking Democrat, Jack Reed, calling the reports “deeply troubling.”
McCain and Reed composed a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Friday asking him to perform an instant evaluation of the reported abuses and what U.S. forces knew.
“Even the suggestion that the United States tolerates torture by our foreign partners compromises our national security mission by weakening the ethical concept that identifies us from our opponents– our belief that individuals have basic human rights,” the senators wrote Mattis. “We are confident that you find these claims as exceptionally unpleasant as we do.”
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, likewise required an investigation and noted that assistance for the UAE forces could violate a law he wrote that prohibits funding to understood human rights violators.
“Reports of acts of abuse by agents of a federal government that is supported by the United States, and the possibility that U.S. military workers might have understood it, should sound alarm bells at the Department of Defense,” Leahy stated in a statement to the AP.
The American Civil Liberties Union also stated Friday that it had filed a Liberty of Details Act request for U.S. records associated to the interrogations.