Geneva- Practices of torture against Yemeni detainees in UAE-controlled prisons must be investigated by the Emirati authorities, says the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, warning that such practices may be “systematic and widespread”. There is an urgent need for investigation into violations committed by UAE-affiliated groups, possibly amounting to war crimes, adds the Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor.
Involved perpetrators must also be held to account, states Euro-Med Monitor, noting that hundreds of detainees in Yemen have been subjected to physical and sexual torture as well as mass assault in prisons run by armed groups that belong to the United Arab Emirates, a member of the Arab Coalition.
Referring to testimonies and drawings leaked recently from Bir Ahmed prison in the southern city of Aden, where at least 150 detainees are currently held, the Euro-Med team reported that the practices against detainees included inhuman transfer in trucks. Such inhuman practices included searching detainees while naked, humiliating them while at gunpoint, and having dogs attack and intimidate them.
The investigation published by the American Associated Press on torture in the Emirati-run prisons shows that torture is not limited to physical abuse, but that both male and female detainees are also subjected to sexual torture. Actions included harassment, rape, filming detainees while naked, subjecting prisoners’ genitals to electric shocks while also sexually violating others with wooden and steel poles.
“Despite the ample evidence and warnings by international groups condemning these practices in UAE-run prisons in Yemen, there is not a single perpetrator held to account for these crimes,” said Sarah Pritchett, Euro-Med’s spokeswoman.
“These practices may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes, and it is a shame that such practices are being done by States that claim to be supporting Yemen and protecting Yemeni civilians. Both the Emirati Government and the Security Council must, together, open an investigation into these crimes and refer the situation to the International Criminal Court to bring to account those involved in such crimes,” Pritchett added.
The UAE controls at least 13 prisons and eight military positions throughout Yemen. At least in five of these prisons, burning and sexual torture are used amply against prisoners. In addition, the presence of some other secret prisons has been reported. Hundreds of Yemeni civilians have been subjected to enforced disappearance after detention, by all parties to the conflict. It is also reported that these detainees have been subjected to barbaric forms of torture, Euro-Med’s spokeswoman further stated.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on the international community to immediately and urgently act to exert pressure on all those responsible for detention and torture against Yemeni civilians. Parties responsible for enforced disappearance and systematic torture policies or other forms of abuse, must also put a prompt end to these acts, releasing prisoners and revealing the secret prisons and detention centers in the country.
Euro-Med Monitor further calls on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to bear the legal and humanitarian responsibility and to work along with the UN organizations to stop the four-year-long conflict and save civilians from the war, hunger, and extreme poverty from which they have been suffering for years.