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Yemen: Human Rights Committee Review in New York on 14 - 15 March 2012

In its first review by a UN human rights committee since former Vice-President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi became President in January 2012 following months of protest, Yemen will be examined by the United Nations' Human Rights Committee in New York on 14 and 15 March 2012. Alkarama submitted a report on the human rights situation in the country to the Committee, which is charged with monitoring implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the international committee's foremost treaty on civil and political rights.

Alkarama's report addressed the situation of human rights in Yemen since the last review by the Human Rights Committee in 2005. A number of concerns were highlighted, including the excessive use of force by the Yemeni authorities, namely individual branches of the armed forces under the control of members of former President Salah's family during the 2011 protests (such as the Republican Guards), which have led to hundreds of extra-judicial executions. In addition, there were a number of deaths caused by various security and intelligence forces in conflicts in the north, against the Houthi community – a conflict that has been ongoing since 2004, as well as in the south of the country, which has witnessed protests seeking increased autonomy from the central Government. The government's counter-terrorism measures have also lead to deaths, including in drone attacks carried out with US assistance.

Torture and ill-treatment also remained an unfortunate constant in the country, particularly for people detained by Political Security and National Security. Arbitrary detention in general of protestors and political activists, as well as for people involved in the Houthi and southern protest movements was of concern, particularly as detention conditions remain precarious. Unfair trials were rampant – main issues included lack of access to legal counsel and use of coerced confessions.

A further subject of concern were attacks on the freedom of expression, which affected in particular the media and journalists who faced constant harassment in the period since Yemen's last review.

Looking towards the future, Alkarama recommended that the Committee address the issue of impunity presented by the amnesty law adopted by the Yemeni parliament on 21 January 2012 which provides immunity to Saleh, and his aides, from prosecution, in breach of international human rights law.

Alkarama will be highlighting its key concerns in person to the Committee prior to the review, scheduled for 14 and 15 March 2012 in New York. It hopes that this review will result in a constructive dialogue leading to a comprehensible improvement in the human rights situation in Yemen