Monday, January 9, 2012

Saleh granted amnesty despite U.N. warning

Jan. 9, 2012

SANAA, Yemen, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- All members of the administration of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh are shielded from the law, a draft measure submitted by the vice president said.

Saleh endured protests against his government for much of 2011. The president spent much of the summer at a military hospital in Saudi Arabia, however, after surviving an assassination attempt in June.

Late last year, he bowed to international pressure and signed a deal to hand power over to his vice president in exchange for immunity for prosecution.

The government during the weekend approved a draft amnesty law submitted by Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

"The draft law of amnesty gives President Ali Abdullah Saleh and all those who worked with him during his presidency across all civilian, military and security apparatuses an amnesty shielding them from legal or judicial prosecution," the official Saba news agency reports.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, before the government action, said international law does not permit amnesty for those who may be responsible for possible war crimes or genocide. She said her office had information to suggest some leaders in Yemen may have committed serious crimes against the people during demonstrations.

"Every individual who commits a crime is accountable and should not be allowed to escape justice," she said in a statement.

Saleh was said to be considering leaving the country for medical treatment in the United States. He's since backtracked, saying he would stay in the country to serve as a campaign adviser to the vice president.

Yemen PM on Gulf tour to seek financial help


January 09, 2012

Yemen's Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa began a tour to the country's oil-rich Gulf neighbours on Monday to seek urgently needed aid for an economy approaching collapse.

Basindawa, formerly an opposition leader who is now leading a transitional government, heads in search of financial help while political tensions at home remain acute and protests continue against the deal that brought him to power.

The tour aims to raise "immediate support to face Yemen's budget deficit," and will see the prime minister visit, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar, Basindawa told Al-Arabiya news channel.

"We are counting on this tour, mainly on the visit to Saudi Arabia... especially since we have inherited an empty treasury," he said.

Last month, UN agencies said nearly four million Yemenis will be affected by the country's political and economic crisis in 2012, more than half of whom will suffer from acute food shortages.

Nearly a year of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime sparked a breakdown in public services and Yemen is also struggling to combat an insurgency by Al-Qaeda-linked militants in its restive south.

Basindawa became prime minister following a Gulf-sponsored deal that calls for Saleh to formally resign in exchange for immunity from prosecution for himself and his relatives.

Outrage over the immunity provision has fueled further protests, but the transitional government has said it will not try to adjust the terms of the deal.

Basindawa said that tension will not settle until Saleh formally quits power following elections called for February, when Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi is due to take over.

"People will not feel that danger has gone before Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi is officially elected as president on February 21," Basindawa said.

And protests continued Monday, when hundreds of young people rallied in the capital's Change Square to denounce Saleh's immunity deal, which has been submitted by the transitional government to parliament for approval.

"The youths reject the government's draft law and warn the parliament from ratifying it as it contradicts all international laws," leading activist Walid al-Amari told AFP.

"If approved, we will begin demonstrations and sit-ins outside the parliament," Amari threatened.

Yemen approves immunity law for Saleh

News Date: 9th January 2012

Yemen's new coalition government has approved an immunity law for outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh which will now be voted on by Parliament.

The immunity law was stipulated by the power transfer deal signed by the president and the opposition coalition in Saudi Arabia late last year. Under the deal, parliament members must adopt the immunity law before Saleh resigns.

Earlier on Sunday, about 3,000 protesters arrived in the capital, Sanaa to demand Saleh’s prosecution. They had marched 250 kilometers from the north-western province of Al Hodayda.

Protesters chanted slogans against the power transfer deal and demanded Saleh’s trial. Hundreds of security soldiers accompanied the march as it entered Sanaa.

Yemen told by UN not to pass amnesty law to protect “gross violations”

January 9, 2012

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay 6 January told Yemen’s lawmakers that they must not go ahead with a proposed amnesty law that would protect those who commit war crimes. Her office has recently sent a team to Yemen to study the situation there and prepare a report on the country, where protests have grown in recent months.

“I have been closely following the events in Yemen, particularly the very contentious debate about an amnesty law to be presented to Parliament shortly,” the high commissioner said. “International law and the UN policy are clear on the matter: amnesties are not permissible if they prevent the prosecution of individuals who may be criminally responsible for international crimes including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and gross violations of human rights.”

“Based on information we have gathered, there is reason to believe that some of these crimes were committed in Yemen during the period for which an amnesty is under consideration. Such an amnesty would be in violation of Yemen’s international human rights obligations.”