Lawyers file Yemen war crimes complaint with UK police

Lawyers file Yemen war crimes complaint with UK police
Human rights lawyers from Guernica 37 have submitted a dossier of war crime allegations the make accusations about a number of high-ranking officials from the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
2 min read
20 October, 2021
An aerial attack on Sanaa in 2016 killed 140 people [Getty]

Human rights lawyers in the UK on Wednesday submitted a complaint to British police, which accuses senior officials in the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of complicity in war crimes in Yemen

The Guernica 37 legal team, who specialise in transnational litigation enforcing human rights, submitted a dossier to the Metropolitan Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service.

According to the legal team, they identified 22 high-ranking Saudi and Emirati political and military officials who are alleged to have been involved in crimes against humanity. 

“We are talking about the most heinous crimes and we don’t believe there is any immunity from them,” Toby Cadman, a leading barrister for Guernica 37 told The Guardian

The names of those accused of committing crimes against humanity have not been released. 

In their filing, the legal team focused on three events from the conflict in Yemen, which has raged since 2014. 

The first event was a 2018 aerial attack that hit a school bus in the north of the country, which killed at least 26 children; the second incident examined was a 2016 aerial bombing of a funeral in Sanaa, which killed 140 people. 

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In addition to the aerial attacks, Guernica 37 have also included allegations of torture and the murder of civilians in Aden, which is said to have been committed by Colombian mercenaries, who took their orders from a private US military company, operating in the UAE.

The filing handed to British police included testimonies from the survivors and the family members of the victims. 

In order to submit the legal complaint, Guernica 37 used the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows for criminal prosecutions to be brought against those accused of war crimes and torture, regardless of where the alleged crime took place, or the nationality of the victims. 

Neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia are party to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, making it impossible for the case to be heard there. 

Yemen had been gripped by conflict since 2014, with Iran-backed Houthis fighting a war against a Saudi-led coalition of fighters, including the UAE. 

Fighting has killed tens of thousands of people, and created a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the country.