Human Rights Council
9–27 September 2019
Agenda item 2
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
In the present report, the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts highlights incidents and patterns of conduct since September 2014, including those between September 2014 and June 2018 not covered in its previous report (A/HRC/39/43), and incidents and patterns between July 2018 and June 2019 in the context of the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis.
The Group of Experts found patterns of continued violations by all parties to the conflict, as civilians continued to be killed and injured by the fighting and to suffer violations of their most basic human rights.
1. In its resolution 36/31, the Human Rights Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a group of eminent international and regional experts to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in Yemen. The Council mandated the Group to conduct a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and other appropriate and applicable fields of international law committed by all parties to the conflict since September 2014, to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses and, where possible, to identify those responsible.
2. In December 2017, the High Commissioner appointed Kamel Jendoubi (Tunisia) (Chair), Charles Garraway (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and Melissa Parke (Australia) as the experts. Following the submission by the Group of Experts of its report to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-ninth session (A/HRC/39/43), the Council, in its resolution 39/16, extended the mandate of the Group for a further year, and requested it to submit a comprehensive report to the High Commissioner for presentation to the Council at its forty-second session.
3. In the present report, the Group of Experts addresses incidents and patterns in Yemen since September 2014, including certain emblematic situations that arose between September 2014 and June 2018 not covered by the Group in its first report, and incidents and patterns occurring between July 2018 and June 2019 as part of the ongoing conflict. In accordance with its mandate, the Group identifies, where possible, those responsible. Owing to the restrictions placed on its access and the limited time and resources available to it, the Group continued to prioritize incidents on the basis of the gravity of allegations. The findings presented do not reflect actual numbers of violations likely to have been committed, but represent only a small sample of the violations committed since September 2014.
4. In January 2019, the Group addressed its requests for submissions to the Government of Yemen, the de facto authorities and the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates supporting the Government of Yemen. In February 2019, the Group of Experts issued an online call for submissions by 1 June 2019. The Group addressed further written requests for specific information to the coalition on 25 March, to the Government of Yemen on 29 March, to the de facto authorities on 10 April, and to all of them on 1 July. As at 24 July, only the de facto authorities had responded. The Group also considered responses from the coalition and the Government of Yemen received in 2018, and letters received from the Governments of Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates addressed to the Human Rights Council and senior United Nations officials detailing their positions on the findings of the Group of Experts outlined in its report (A/HRC/39/43).
5. Consistent with established evidentiary standards of United Nations fact-finding bodies, the Group of Experts adopted the “reasonable grounds to believe” standard of proof. It undertook fact-finding practices aimed at ensuring the safety and security of witnesses and victims.
6. Despite the restrictions placed on its access to Yemen following the release of its first report, the Group of Experts continued to gather evidence, including by using methods based on ever-evolving best practices from fact-finding bodies facing similar constraints. It conducted more than 600 interviews with victims, witnesses and other sources, and examined a large volume of documentary and open-source material. Its findings are based on its independent investigations, focusing on allegations of violations of international law relating to situations emblematic of the armed conflict. Where available and appropriate, the Group also examined information from additional sources, reaching independent conclusions on such content after assessing the reliability of the information and credibility of the source.
7. The Group of Experts regrets that, following the release of its first report, the Governments of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt did not cooperate with the Group or support its work. While the de facto authorities agreed to the request by the Group to visit areas under its control, the Government of Yemen did not respond to its multiple requests for permission to enter Yemen, thereby preventing access to the country and, consequently, to victims and information. The Group denounces the environment of fear created by some of the parties to the conflict that caused witnesses, victims and organizations to reconsider their cooperation with it. Furthermore, the lack of safe spaces for victims and witnesses to have privacy to speak with investigators had a detrimental impact, especially on cases involving the most vulnerable and marginalized persons, such as gender-based violence, and violations against children and persons with disabilities.
8. The Group of Experts once again expresses its gratitude to the victims and witnesses who shared their experiences, and for the assistance provided by government and non-governmental entities and by United Nations agencies and partners.