The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR) filed a complaint yesterday with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the UAE’s alleged war crimes in Yemen. A press release from the organisation also accuses the UAE of engaging mercenaries to fight in Yemen, including nationals from Australia, South Africa, Columbia, El Salvador, Chile and Panama.
“The UAE did not want to get its own hands dirty, so it employed foreigners to do its dirty work,” said Me. Joseph Breham, an international criminal lawyer at French law firm ANCILE Avocats. “This has opened a break in the wall of impunity in Yemen. The ICC must seize this opportunity. We cannot look away this time.”
In September, a Yemeni citizen died under “severe torture” inside a secret prison said to be run by the United Arab Emirates in southern Yemen. Human Rights Watch revealed that UAE-supported forces carried out arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances against Yemeni citizens.
The Hadrami Elite Forces and Security Belt Forces are supported by the UAE; they operate predominately in the south of Yemen. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that the forces were involved in kidnapping hundreds of Yemenis and placing them in secret prisons based at Al-Riyyan Airport in southern Yemen. Reports claim that the forces held people prisoner in metal shipping containers in temperatures up to 53 degrees. In early November, 113 detainees were reportedly transferred from a secret prison run by the UAE to another government-run facility in the coastal city of Mukalla.
The UAE entered the Yemen civil war in March 2015 as a major partner within the Saudi-led coalition. The coalition was tasked with neutralising threats from the Iranian-backed Houthi armed group emanating from the north of Yemen. The UAE has since focused its military presence in the south of Yemen, where it is now supporting the Southern Transitional Council headed by a UAE-loyalist, President Aidarous Al-Zubaidi.