Yemen must stop sidelining rights for security: Yemen

24th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Yemen must stop sacrificing human rights as it confronts a southern separatist movement, the aftermath of a rebellion in the north and threats from Al-Qaeda, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

"The Yemeni authorities must stop sacrificing human rights in the name of security as they confront threats from Al-Qaeda, Zaidi Shiite rebels in the north and address growing demands for secession in the south," the rights group said.

"All measures taken in the name of countering terrorism or other security challenges in Yemen must have at (their) heart the protection of human rights," Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

"An extremely worrying trend has developed where the Yemeni authorities ... have been citing national security as a pretext to deal with opposition and stifle all criticism," he said.

Yemen has carried out torture, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances and unfair trials in the name of security concerns, according to an Amnesty report released on Tuesday.

"The main security fear for many people in Yemen ... is to be caught up in the government's repressive and sweeping response to the protests in the south and conflict in the north," the report says.

In south Yemen, where many residents complain of discrimination in the allocation of resources, frequent protests are held by members of Yemen's Southern Movement, who want either increased autonomy or secession.

"Security forces are alleged to have targeted for extrajudicial execution people prominent in the Southern Movement and have killed or injured hundreds of protesters during peaceful demonstrations," Amnesty's report says.

In north Yemen, the latest round of fighting broke out last August, when Yemeni troops launched an all-out offensive against the Zaidis, also known as Huthis, and continued until a February ceasefire.

The report says "hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilians were killed in 2009-2010, many as a result of apparently indiscriminate attacks and other violations of international humanitarian law" during that fighting.

Yemeni efforts to combat Al-Qaeda have also resulted in rights violations, the report says.

"People alleged to be linked to Al-Qaeda have been targeted for extrajudicial execution, sometimes leading to the killing of other people, including children, who were not being targeted."

Yemen has been under intense pressure from the United States to crack down on Al-Qaeda since an attempt to blow up a US airliner on Christmas day, which was claimed by Al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch.

© 2010 AFP

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