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As Yemen Rights Debated in Half Empty Room, Saleh Impunity Defended

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 14 -- Yemen's human rights record was debated Wednesday in a less than half full UN conference room. Minister Hooriah Mashour faced questions from the members of the UN Human Rights Committee, on topics ranging from women's rights through drones to the immunity deal for Ali Saleh.

  Ms. Mashour's responses did not begin until 5 pm, and for nearly an hour she focused on women's rights, saying that in her ten years -- that is, in Ali Saleh's times -- she has received few to no complaints of marital rape, "it is not a problem in Yemeni society."

  She acknowledged that parts of the country are under the control of Al Qaeda and of the Houthis, and that southerners were forced to retire from the military, but may be compensated.

  Finally at 5:48 pm she addressed the "amnesty law," calling it difficult but "we opted for the immunity versus the transitional justice. We gave immunity at the same time that we had to go for a frank dialogue between the parties concerned... to keep in the national memory of our nation."

  This issue of impunity was considered a hot one not long ago. Now with much focus transferred to Syria, the UN room for Yemen is mostly empty. In it there was talk of UN Assistant Secretary General, and major Ban Ki-moon adviser, Amat Al-Alim Alsoswa, who was an Ali Saleh era minister.

  "As for extrajudiary killings," Hooriah Mashour continued,, "we do not have enough information on this issue. We tackled with the USA regarding the unmanned vehicles, there were certain manuevers in the Arab Sea and the Gulf. However there was not enough transparency. How come civilians who had nothing to do with terrorism... like in Majala... this is bothering us, especially that the victims are civilians."

  Sounds like the US in Pakistan. Or Afghanistan. Or Somalia, if you follow it. So where is the US response?

  Meanwhile, at the March 14 session Minister Hooriah Mashour said there were 2000 "martyrs" during the uprising. Watch this site.

Footnote: Before the "open" session reported on above, there was a closed session of briefings by human rights groups, including AlKarama about which Inner City Press has previously reported. Now the group's executive director Mourad Dhina has been arrested by France, which talks such a big game about human rights. We hope to have more on this.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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