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UAE, Saudi Arabia may have committed war crimes in Yemen: UN experts

30 August 2018

"The Group of Experts has reasonable grounds to believe that the Governments of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are responsible for human rights violations, including unlawful deprivation of the right to life, arbitrary detention, rape, torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearance and child recruitment, and serious violations of freedom of expression and economic, social and cultural rights, in particular the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to health", according to the 41-page report released Tuesday in Geneva.

A team of United Nations human rights experts have accused the US -backed, Saudi-led coalition of committing possible war crimes in Yemen, including the bombing and shelling of schools, hospitals and markets.

Previous UN reports haven't been well received by the Saudis and in those cases, angry moves to the UN Security Council and the backing of the U.S. ultimately forced the UN to withdraw the reports, despite finding no fault with any of the facts within. Mattis said U.S. support for aerial refueling and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition "is not unconditional". "Our conduct there is to try to keep the human cost of innocents being killed accidentally to an absolute minimum".

United Nations human rights experts believe war crimes may have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.

American lawmakers anxious about the use of American arms in attacks killing civilians have tried several times to reduce support for the war, so far without much success.

Thousands of Yemenis vented anger against Riyadh and Washington at a mass funeral in the northern Yemeni city of Saada for children killed in an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition early in August.

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The report said Defence Secretary James Mattis and General Joseph Votel, head of USA military operations in the Middle East, are "particularly concerned" by the United States support of the coalition considering the recent number of civilian casualties. But a former Barack Obama administration official said it's not clear that the Saudis - or their allies - will face any legal jeopardy for the recent spate of bombings.

The experts cited some 6,475 deaths from the conflict between March 2015 and June this year, but said the "real figure is likely to be significantly higher".

Defending America's ongoing role in the war in Yemen, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday that his country's backing for the Saudi-led coalition operating there was not "unconditional".

Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, said his government would review the panel's findings and highlighted its conclusions regarding Houthi attacks on civilians.

The experts have also chronicled the damage from coalition airstrikes over the previous year.

The experts say they have identified, where possible, individuals who may be responsible for war crimes and passed a confidential list of their names to the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

UAE, Saudi Arabia may have committed war crimes in Yemen: UN experts