Human Lives Human Rights: Crime against humanity in its broad interpretation is considered as a significant and intentional harm to human beings or human rights. Crimes against humanity according to the first paragraph of Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court include only those crimes that are committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack with the aim of targeting any civilian population.
Examples of human rights violations in Yemen
On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights are a set of values, documents and mechanisms that are used in the position of human dignity and rights. Also, resolutions 2444 approved on December 19, 1970 are devoted to the protection of human rights and fundamental principles related to the protection of civilians.
The prohibition of the war methods and tools used by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia can be documented in the set of laws and customs of humanitarian law, including the rules of the four Geneva conventions and the international system of human rights and freedoms. Among these documents are several clauses of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, Saudi Arabia was one of the eight countries that abstained when the declaration was approved, but its procedure, like other countries, was not to adopt a position against it and not to take any obvious action against it in all these years.
Protecting the rights of children, women, vulnerable people and the elderly, the right to development, the right to peace, the right to enjoy a dignified life, the right to food, shelter, safe drinking water and many other things are among the basic human rights, which the Yemeni citizens have been denied of having access to, during the Saudi military invasion.
It is interesting that Saudi Arabia has become a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, while as per rules, only countries that have the highest human rights standards can be among the members of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
However, by issuing a resolution in 2016, the council deployed a group of prominent international and regional experts to monitor and prepare reports on human rights violations in Yemen. This is the highest international composition ever formed to investigate human rights violations in a country that, according to the United Nations, is facing the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, described the situation in Yemen as one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world and called for an independent investigation into the violation of humanitarian rights and international laws in Yemen.
Crimes against humanity can be divided into three categories: crimes against the physical and mental integrity of people, crimes against individual freedoms, and other anti-human acts. This crime may occur both during wartime and during peacetime, and the target of the attack is a civilian population. The most important thing that proves membership in a civilian population is the victim’s need for protection arising from their defenselessness against the state’s military and other organized forces.
What the Saudi regime is doing in Yemen includes many criminal titles that are committed in the form of crimes against humanity widely and without any difference between women, men, children and civilians.
Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen led to an increase in the number of Yemeni refugees more than seven times. In addition to displacement, Yemenis are facing other important problems such as children being deprived of education, rape of women and girls, loss of homes and jobs, as well as health problems and hunger. Each of these problems constitute different dimensions of the crime against humanity that has happened to the people of Yemen.
Homelessness and displacement, which is an example of deportation or forced migration of citizens from their place of residence, is another example of a crime against humanity. One of the consequences of the war is the homelessness and displacement of people who become homeless inside their own country or are displaced in other countries.
For the Yemeni people, homelessness and displacement took place due to the war that Saudi Arabia imposed on them. Referring to the conflicts in Yemen, the United Nations Migration Agency announced that more than 1.2 million people have been displaced in this country and are facing a crisis.
According to customary international humanitarian law, medical facilities such as hospitals, religious and historical places, and infrastructure facilities of countries are immune from attack and destruction, and the party committing these war crimes is held responsible. The coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia has created a humanitarian crisis with planned air attacks on civilians, infrastructure and positions of the Houthis.
In the meantime, Britain and the United States of America have played a role in this disaster by providing military equipment and support needed by the coalition. In these deadly and relentless attacks, many hospitals, schools, water supply facilities, farms, markets, and even the main port of Hodeida have been left in destruction.
Considering the violation of the rules and principles of international law in Saudi coalition’s attack on Yemen, it can be said that Saudi Arabia and other attackers of Yemen, according to the Articles 2 and 12 of the international Responsibility of States, countries have international responsibility for flagrant violations of international law. The Yemeni government can file a lawsuit against them in international organizations and claim damages based at their responsibility.
In attacking Yemen, Saudi Arabia has not followed many rules of humanitarian law during the war. From both aspects of international law, Saudi Arabia is an aggressor country. Also, as per war law and humanitarian law, Saudi Arabia is a war criminal. The leaders of Saudi Arabia are responsible for these crimes and should be prosecuted.
Saudi Coalition; Crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide of the Yemeni people
A-Crime against humanity
The term is used as the label for a category of international crimes. According to Article 7 of the Rome Statute, ‘crime against humanity’ means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.
What the Saudi regime is doing in Yemen against civilians, children and women includes numerous criminal titles that are included in Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court as examples of crimes against humanity.
Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen has killed and displaced a large number of Yemeni people. In addition to displacement, Yemenis have faced other major problems, including children being deprived of education, rape of women and girls, loss of their homes and jobs. Also, the problems of health and hunger have plagued the people of this nation.
Each of these problems constitutes another dimension of the crime against humanity that has been openly committed by the coalition forces against Yemen. the Saudi regime’s military attack on Yemen have clearly violated the children’s rights.
According to reports, the Saudi coalition has carried out half of the attacks against schools and hospitals. During the war against Yemen, over 2 million Yemeni children have suffered from malnutrition, disabilities and cholera, according to the latest reports.
Two-thirds of Yemen’s population (nearly 19 million people) need some kind of emergency aid, and 4.5 million children suffer from malnutrition, which, without any doubt, is the Saudi coalition’s crime against humanity in Yemen.
B- War crimes
War crimes are crimes that are committed in armed conflicts, causing gross violations of humanitarian rights. According to the principles of customary international humanitarian law, which are applicable to all countries due to their customary nature, medical facilities such as hospitals, religious and historical places, and infrastructure facilities of countries are immune from attack and destruction, and the perpetrators are considered to be committing to war crimes. What has clearly been observed during the war against Yemen is the targeting of factories, bridges, schools, hospitals, etc. In this way, the Saudi coalition has repeatedly attacked Yemen’s hospitals, mosques, cultural and historical centers, and its infrastructure and caused a large number of casualties.
On the other hand, the rules of customary international humanitarian law prohibit the use of chemical, biological, explosive weapons and explosive bullets, but according to the Human Rights Watch, the Saudi coalition has repeatedly used unconventional bombs such as cluster bombs, which are examples of war crimes. Therefore, war crimes of this coalition are evident.
Among other war crimes is the prevention of humanitarian aid from the International Red Cross to the victims (military or civilian) in the attacks of the Arab coalition against Yemen, which in addition to being a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, is also considered a war crime.
Attacking wheat silos, Sana’a power plant and the only power plant in Saada province, Sana’a airport, destroying passenger planes to prevent Iran from sending humanitarian aid are among other war crimes of Saudi Arabia and its allies. Based on this, it can be said with certainty that most of the actions of the Saudi coalition in the Yemeni territory are examples of war crimes.
The countries of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Maghreb, Sudan, Jordan and Egypt, which were among the countries that attacked Yemen under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, are each guilty of committing these war crimes, and for such crimes, each of the mentioned countries can be prosecuted internationally.
C- Genocide of the Yemeni people
Another crime committed by the Saudi coalition in Yemen, is genocide. Genocide is among the gravest crimes against humanity. Genocide is the intentional destruction of a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group—in whole or in part, and is considered an international crime.
Given this, forming a coalition, the systematic attack and mass killing of the Yemeni people just for defending their citizenship and religious rights, these elements constitute the international crime of “genocide” in Yemen.
Genocide requires proving the perpetrators’ malicious intent to commit genocide and eliminate an ethnic, national, religious and racial group. According to Article 6 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, the approach of the Saudi government towards the Yemeni people and the Ansarullah can be investigated and pursued as genocide.
Attempting to deliberately destroy the aforementioned group, which is considered a national and religious group in Yemen, through severe physical or psychological harm and deliberately placing them in inappropriate living conditions (including inadequate nutrition, health, reducing or preventing essential medical services, etc.) are among the visible examples of the Saudi Arabia and coalition forces of committing genocide.
What is clear is that the invasion of Yemen by a number of countries led by Saudi Arabia is not in line with any of the principles and international legal rules. Considering the violation of the principles of international humanitarian law makes countries involved internationally responsible. In case of violation of these principles, regardless of whether they have been violated as international customary rules, this issue will also be extended to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 regarding the laws of war.
Based on this, by analyzing the characteristics of the military intervention and the crimes of the Arab coalition led by the Saudis in Yemen, as per the international law and the laws of war, the crime of Saudi Arabia and the intervening governments and the criminal perpetrators of military attacks is quite clear.
The coalition forces who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Yemen, are blameworthy for military attacks. The above-mentioned examples are proof of committing war crimes and violations of international humanitarian rights by the Saudi regime and the Arab coalition, which are subject to the criminal jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
If the way of war and crimes against Yemen break the statute of the International Criminal Court, surely, this type of war is prohibited from the point of view of international criminal law and is considered a crime. The Saudi government and its allies, have committed all three crimes mentioned in the International Criminal Court, i.e., war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace.
The International Criminal Court can be requested to pursue this case. But, since looking at the crimes in the International Criminal Court requires the membership of countries, considering that Yemen as the aggressed country and Saudi Arabia as the aggressor are not members of that court, the court cannot deal with Yemen’s complaint.
Therefore, the only way to prosecute the crimes against the Yemeni nation as of now is to pursue the case through the UN Security Council. If the International Criminal Court is obliged to deal with the situation that the Security Council recognizes as a breach of peace based on Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, and refers it to the court, regardless of the membership of the aggressor country of Saudi Arabia and the aggressed country of Yemen. In other words, with the approval of the peace violation in Yemen by the Security Council, these crimes will be referred to the International Criminal Court for judicial and criminal investigation.