The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been urged by British lawyers representing victims to open a war crimes investigation into the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. A dossier submitted to The Hague yesterday provides evidence which suggests strongly that crimes against humanity have been committed during the six-year conflict.
London law firm Guernica 37 Chambers has submitted evidence to the ICC on behalf of hundreds of victims of the war in Yemen. It has called on the new ICC Prosecutor, Karim A. A. Khan QC, to open an investigation into the coalition.
Allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity included in the dossier include murder, imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance, wilful killing, wilfully causing great suffering, and extensive destruction to property not justified by military objectives. The evidence has been drawn from survivors, their relatives, and families of those murdered in three incidents:
- An attack on a school bus in August 2018, which killed 34 and maimed dozens more. A significant number of the victims were children.
- A double missile attack in October 2016 on a funeral gathering which killed at least 110 people and left more than 600 with life-changing injuries.
- Allegations of torture and murder of civilians in Aden, southern Yemen by Colombian mercenaries under the command of a US private military company contracted to the United Arab Emirates.
The submission contains "abundant evidence provided by the testimony of survivors and their relatives as well as other documentary sources."
"At the time of the [school bus] attack the Coalition claimed they would investigate and hold the perpetrators to account," explained a co-head of Guernica 37, Almudena Bernabeu. "Of course, they did no such thing. As the court of last resort, victims and families have no choice but to call on the International Criminal Court to ensure these events are properly investigated and justice is done."
Although Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not signatories to the Rome Statute — the treaty that established the ICC — Guernica 37 Chambers argues that the world body nevertheless had jurisdiction over the matter.
Speaking as the submission was made, Toby Cadman, also a co-Head of the law firm and lead counsel to the applicants pointed out: "Three signatories to the Rome Statute – Jordan, Senegal, and The Maldives – were members of the Saudi-led coalition at the time of both the school bus and funeral attacks. Similarly, citizens of another ICC member, Colombia, were combatants in the war at the same time. The ICC can and must use its clear jurisdiction to investigate these undeniable and evidenced crimes."