Sunday, September 20, 2009


The Yemeni government offered a familiar excuse and a familiar pledge concerning air strikes last week which hit a camp sheltering internally displaced persons, killing at least eighty-seven civilians. The Shia rebels active in the North of the country were to blame, the government said, for hiding in the camp, which officials denied existed. Still, the government said, it would investigate the incident.

That is not good enough. The air strike was a serious crime against humanity which undoubtedly involved the participation of senior officials. The government of Yemen is neither capable of launching a complete and transparent investigation or of taking any official action to address the situation beyond updating their spokesmens' talking points.

Governments guilty of crimes against humanity are rarely capable of anything more than a cover up. This attack requires the investigation of an impartial body capable of holding those guilty accountable, the U.N is the only such body. The U.N must act on the recommendation of its human rights commissioner and send an investigator to probe the air strike and, if appropriate, refer those guilty to the Security Council, which would be required to authorize indictments at the International Criminal Court since Yemen is not a signatory of the Rome Statue establishing the court.

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