Yemen’s Government Approves Expanded Amnesty Deal for Saleh

Despite violating international law, the new deal would extend Saleh's amnesty to his entire government

Yemen’s interim government has approved a proposed deal to underscore the amnesty for disputed president Ali Abdullah Saleh and extend it to his entire civilian, military, and security apparatus.

The opposition protest movement, which is still ongoing throughout the country, is vehemently against granting amnesty to Yemen’s former and current tyrants. But Yemen’s temporary unity government approved it, leaving it to Parliament to pass the measure into law.

Under a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) initiative, signed by President Ali Abdullah Saleh in November, which had the backing of the United States, Saleh was granted amnesty in exchanged for agreeing to step down from power. Saleh signed the deal, but has only formally stepped down, while maintaining his dictatorial power. The deal may be a last ditch effort from the political powers in Sana’a to get Saleh to truly leave.

Many saw the agreement as protecting a U.S.-supported tyrant from being held accountable for massive crimes against civilians. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said last week that granting amnesty to Saleh, who perpetrated human rights abuses and possible war crimes, would violate international law.

“International law and the UN policy are clear on the matter: amnesties are not permissible if they prevent the prosecution of individuals who may be criminally responsible for international crimes including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and gross violations of human rights.”

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.