Friday, April 29, 2011

HRW laughs at immunity deal in Yemen

NEW YORK, April 29 (UPI) -- No immunity deal in the world will absolve those responsible for crimes committed during the unrest in Yemen, Human Rights Watch warned.

Yemeni President Abdullah Ali Saleh said he agreed to the terms of a proposal brokered in part by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The deal sees the embattled president resigning next month in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement that immunity meant little considering the level of violence reported in Yemen.

"President Saleh and those who implement his orders, take note: No immunity deal will absolve you of responsibility for widespread unlawful killings," he said. "Yemeni courts and foreign governments will still be obligated to hold you to account."

The watchdog group said forces loyal to the Yemeni government killed 11 demonstrators and wounded more than 130 Wednesday, making it the worst day of violence in more than five weeks.

Washington has watched the conflict in Yemen closely as the country is a key ally in the so-called war on terror. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, identified as a top threat to U.S. interests, has a strong presence in Yemen.

Stork's group, however, said the United States and its European allies should suspend their assistance to Yemen because of the unrest.

"The U.N. and donors should not shy away from actions to immediately end the carnage just because President Saleh now says he will resign," he said.

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