Amnesty International is calling for a war crimes investigation into alleged disappearances, torture and likely deaths in prisons run by the United Arab Emirates in southern Yemen.
In a report released Thursday titled God Only Knows If He’s Alive,the international human rights watchdog said it documented “egregious violations going unchecked, including systemic enforced disappearance and torture and other ill-treatment amounting to war crimes.”
“Ultimately these violations, which are taking place in the context of Yemen’s armed conflict, should be investigated as war crimes,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty’s crisis response director.
“The UAE’s counterterrorism partners, including the U.S.A., must also take a stand against allegations of torture, including by investigating the role of U.S. personnel in detention-related abuses in Yemen, and by refusing to use information that was likely obtained through torture or other ill-treatment.”
UAE issued a statement Thursday promptly rejecting Amnesty’s report, describing it as “politically motivated.”
The UAE is part of a regional coalition that is seeking to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government and end a three-year-old civil war against Houthi rebels.
Amnesty said it investigated 51 cases of men allegedly detained in Aden, Lahj, Abyan, Hadramawt and Shabwa provinces. It said most of the cases involved forced disappearances, and 19 of the men remain missing.
“The families of these detainees find themselves in an endless nightmare where their loved ones have been forcibly disappeared by UAE-backed forces,” Hassan said. “When they demand to know where their loved ones are held, or if they are even still alive, their requests are met with silence or intimidation.”