UN rights body votes to extend Yemen’s war crimes probe

Nations vote 21 to eight in favour of extending probe despite opposition from Saudi Arabia and Yemen itself.

Yemen's war has been called the world's worst humanitarian disaster [Najeeb Almahboobi/EPA]

The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to extend an international probe of alleged war crimes committed in Yemen overriding objections from Saudi Arabia and Yemen itself.

Nations voted 21 to 8, with 18 abstentions, in favour of the resolution on Friday.

Supporters of the resolution, including Canada and the European Union, argued that an expert group mandated by the council last year still had work to do, but opponents said it would exacerbate the crisis and increase regional instability.

In a report last month, experts detailed evidence of possible war crimes committed in Yemen by the Saudi-backed coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The report added that coalition air strikes caused “most of the documented civilian casualties” and voiced “serious concerns about the targeting process”.

The Yemeni government, which has accused investigators of bias, announced on Thursday that it was ending cooperation with the mission.

“The government refuses to extend the mission’s mandate because its findings, outlined in the report, did not meet the standards of professionalism and impartiality or the basic principles of the United Nations,” said a statement carried by the state-run Saba news agency.

It accused the UN group of “turning a blind eye” to the violations of the Houthi rebels, who the government has been battling since 2014.

The Saudi-led coalition has also dismissed as “inaccurate” and “non-neutral” the UN experts’ August 28 report.

Last week, Human Rights Watch accused Saudi Arabia of mounting a “campaign to discredit and undermine a UN investigation into abuses by all of Yemen’s warring parties”, calling it “yet another blatant attempt to avoid scrutiny of the coalition’s own actions in Yemen”.

The UN said there have been nearly 10,000 confirmed deaths in the conflict since the coalition intervened in 2015 when the Saudi-led alliance entered the war to bolster Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The conflict has triggered what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with three-quarters of the population – or 22 million people – in need of humanitarian aid.

Source: News Agencies