Saudi Arabia’s has issued a royal pardon for all soldiers deployed in Yemen, a statement published by Saudi Arabia’ s government news agency SPA earlier in the week.
The royal pardon covers all “military men” who have taken part in “Operation Restoring Hope”. The official clean slate is signed off by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The statement did not mention what crimes the soldiers were pardoned for, but all “military and disciplinary penalties” have been wiped off.
Whether the pardon comes as a result of human rights groups’ deep criticism of Saudi Arabia’s military activity in Yemen is unclear.
Saudi Arabia has a duty to investigate war crimes committed by their own nationals and prosecute those responsible in a fair and impartial manner, human rights groups have repeatedly said.
6. #Saudi pardon sends message to officers in #Yemen: Green light. No consequences to fear.#Yemen gov should use this as moment to finally stand up, accede to Rome Statute and join International Criminal Court.
So all those who commit war crimes can be called to account.
— Kristine Beckerle (@K_Beckerle) July 11, 2018
The conflict in Yemen escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains. The group had taken control of the capital, Sanaa, and large swathes of the country forcing the internationally backed government into exile. More than 15,000 Yemenis have been killed according to the UN and millions continue to suffer in what it has declared as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
Today, Amnesty International accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and allied Yemeni forces of torturing detainees at a network of secret prisons in southern Yemen and said such violations should be investigated as war crimes.