Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC), the body appointed to chart a post-revolutionary course for the country, has recommended that the new Yemeni constitution make a criminal offence of extra-judicial killing. The recommendations, issued today by the National Issues and Transitional Justice Working Group, would outlaw the US drone strikes that have killed and injured hundreds of people in Yemen, including the December targeting of a wedding party that killed 12 and injured 14.
The news comes amid an apparent ramping up of US drone strikes in Yemen; there have been eight strikes in the last two months alone. Last week, a Yemeni delegation to the United Nations admitted that the Government has had to establish a counselling centre for children because the level of trauma caused by drone attacks in the country is so high.
Meanwhile, a growing clamour of voices is urging the US government to reconsider the controversial policy. This week, former US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal told the BBC that drone strikes risked creating “a tremendous amount of resentment” in places like Yemen.
The NDC was established in 2012 as part of an internationally-sponsored initiative that led to President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down in February 2012, following the 2011 uprising. It was designed to be representative of all Yemeni society, and met throughout 2013 to agree a way forward for a new constitution for Yemen.
Baraa Shiban, a Reprieve Associate based in Yemen and a leading member of the group, said:
“To date, there has been little to no accountability in Yemen for the suffering caused by drone strikes, which have terrorised local populations.
“We welcome this move to take real steps towards protecting the rights and security of Yemen’s citizens, and urge the Yemeni Government to ensure that these recommendations are included in the country’s new constitution.
“It’s disheartening, however, to see the US intensifying drone strikes in Yemen at the very moment the Yemeni people are working to criminalise them. The US has supported the NDC process, but persists in ignoring its outcomes when inconvenient.”
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