Yemen accused by Amnesty over rights abuses


A DECLARATION yesterday by the Central Intelligence Agency that the US is escalating military operations in Yemen due to the urgent threat posed by al-Qaeda elements based there has coincided with an accusation by Amnesty International that Washington is involved in extra-judicial killings in that country.

In a 107-page report entitled Yemen: Cracking Down Under Pressure, Amnesty says that “Yemeni authorities are abandoning human rights in the name of security” due to international calls to combat al- Qaeda. Pressure grew after December 25th, 2009, when a Nigerian man, said to have trained with al-Qaeda in Yemen, tried to blow up a US airliner bound for Detroit. In response, the US announced a $155.3 million security assistance package for Yemen, including $34 million for counter-terrorism operations. In May 2010 the US stepped up surveillance operations in Yemen with the aim of tracking suspects and providing information to Yemeni forces.

According to Amnesty, these forces are increasingly using un- lawful means to deal with al-Qaeda, including “enforced disappearances, killings, arbitrary detention, and excessive use of force”. On some occasions targeted killings led to the deaths of women and children.

“The USA appears to have carried out or collaborated in unlawful killings in Yemen and has closely co-operated with Yemeni security forces in situations that have failed to give due regard for human rights,” argues Amnesty.

It calls on Washington to “investigate the serious allegations of the use of drones by US forces for targeted killings of individuals.and clarify the chain of command and rules governing the use of such drones”.

International support for the anti-al-Qaeda campaign has also, Amnesty asserts, “facilitated the Yemeni government’s resort to unlawful methods . . . against all perceived opponents”, including Houthi rebels in the north and a protest movement in the south. Amnesty says there is no evidence of an al-Qaeda connection to the Houthis or the protesters.