Commission Set to Investigate Yemeni Human Rights Abuses
Following a week of attacks and protests in Sana’a, the U.N. envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, told the Security Council that “the transition is on track, but there have been challenges – serious challenges in various areas, including in the political and the security fields.” Benomar updated the Council on the inclusive National Dialogue process, which is set to kick off in the coming months and lead to the drafting of a constitution next year and full elections in early 2014. One key sticking point was the establishment of a commission of inquiry charged with investigating human rights abuses during the uprisings last year, which could include the prosecution of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, his advisors, and his relatives. Following a concerted push by Benomar and “an intense, five-month-long debate in the cabinet,” a decision was reached yesterday to form the independent commission in the coming weeks.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said they are “very concerned for the safety of journalists in Yemen” after two attacks on reporters covering the U.S. Embassy protests last week. Benjamin Wiacek, a French journalist whose attack was highlighted in the RSF statement, noted ”what happened to me is unfortunately a regular incident for many Yemeni journalists.” The incident involving Wiacek was captured on video and has been circulating widely on social media websites and blogs this week.
Joshua Foust of the American Security Project released a background brief on recent Yemeni history and U.S. policy priorities there, suggesting that the U.S. has extensive commercial interests in Yemen as well as the oft-cited security concerns. U.S.-Yemni relations will be highlighted during President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi‘s trip to New York next week for the U.N. General Assembly. An eagerly anticipated Friends of Yemen meeting will take place on the sidelines of the U.N.G.A. on September 27.