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Thursday, July 12, 2018, 11:51
Amnesty calls for probe of torture claims at Yemen
By Reuters
Thursday, July 12, 2018, 11:51 By Reuters

This undated photo obtained by The Associated Press shows a drawing of prisoners being transported in a pickup truck to an Emirati-run prison in Yemen. The Arabic reads: "This is how they transport the prisoners from and to the coalition. Blindfolded and handcuffed in the back of a Land Cruiser pickup in large numbers as if they are animals and under gunpoint." (PHOTO / AP)

DUBAI — Amnesty International accused United Arab Emirates (UAE) and allied Yemeni forces of torturing detainees at a network of secret prisons in southern Yemen and said such violations should be investigated as war crimes. 

The UAE, a key US ally, says it has never run prisons or secret detention centres in Yemen. It and its Yemeni allies have denied past allegations of torturing prisoners. 

The UAE, a key US ally, says it has never run prisons or secret detention centres in Yemen

Amnesty said in a statement on Thursday that scores of men had been subjected to enforced disappearance after being arbitrarily detained by UAE and Yemeni forces "operating outside the command of their own government". 

The UAE is one of the leading countries in an alliance of Arab states fighting in Yemen in support of a government based in the south of the country, against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement which controls the capital Sanaa and much of the north. 

The UAE mission in Geneva said last month that Yemeni authorities "are in complete control of local and federal governance, judicial and prison systems". However, the interior minister in the southern-based government, Ahmed al-Maysari, appeared to contradict that statement earlier this week by calling on the UAE to shut down or hand over prisons it runs. 

READ MORE: Detainees released days after AP report on UAE-run prisons

On Tuesday, Maysari said he had reached an agreement with the UAE and that now all prisons in the government-held areas are under the control of the Yemeni general prosecutor. 

Amnesty said an investigation conducted between March 2016 and May 2018 in the southern provinces of Aden, Lahj, Abyan, Shabwa, and Hadramout documented widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment in Yemeni and Emirati facilities, including beatings, use of electric shocks and sexual violence. 

"The UAE, operating in shadowy conditions in southern Yemen, appears to have created a parallel security structure outside the law, where egregious violations continue to go unchecked," said Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International. 

ALSO READ: Sexual abuses rampant in UAE-controlled prisons in Yemen

"Ultimately these violations, which are taking place in the context of Yemen's armed conflict, should be investigated as war crimes," Hassan said. 

The Amnesty report also called on the United States to do more to ensure it does not receive information obtained by its UAE allies through torture, and to promote compliance with human rights laws.

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