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MORE than 60 civil society groups are calling on the United Nations to urgently set up a new independent body to investigate war crimes in Yemen.
It comes after the UN Human Rights Council voted in October against renewing the mandate for the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (GEE) — the only independent and impartial mechanism documenting crimes by all parties in the conflict.
It’s understood that Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of war crimes in Yemen, heavily lobbied Human Rights Council members against the resolution to extend the probe.
This week 64 international organisations, including Britain-based group Campaign Against the Arms Trade, have signed a statement calling on the UN General Assembly to urgently set up a new international accountability mechanism for Yemen.
“The international community cannot stand by and allow that vote to be the last word on accountability efforts for abuses and war crimes in Yemen,” the statement reads.
“The suffering already inflicted on civilians in the country demands this step to address impunity in the ongoing conflict and send a clear warning to perpetrators on all sides that they will be held accountable for war crimes.”
Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners in the conflict against Houthi rebels in Yemen have been accused of conducting scores of unlawful air strikes against homes, hospitals, schools and markets.
Houthi forces have also been accused of firing indiscriminately at populated areas in Saudi Arabia.
The war in Yemen has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with over 80 per cent of the population dependent on aid.
The signatories of the statement added that an independent and impartial body should also be set up to collect evidence in preparation for possible future criminal prosecutions.
They say: “The people of Yemen need justice. And justice begins with investigations and accountability. The time to act is now.”
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