Granting amnesty to Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who perpetrated human rights abuses and possible war crimes, would be against international law, the UN human rights chief has said.
“I have been closely following the events in Yemen, particularly the very contentious debate about an amnesty law to be presented to Parliament shortly,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Friday.
“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.”
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 amnestying exchanged for agreeing to step down from power. Many saw the agreement as protecting a U.S.-supported tyrant from being held accountable for massive crimes against civilians. The deal was agreed to, but Saleh has only formally stepped down, while maintaining his dictatorial power.