Coalition ‘regrets’ Yemen bus strike, JIAT says those responsible should be accountable

JIAT said an airstrike by the Arab Coalition last month that killed dozens of people traveling on a bus lacked military justification and requires a review of the rules of engagement (Screengrab)
Updated 02 September 2018
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Coalition ‘regrets’ Yemen bus strike, JIAT says those responsible should be accountable

  • Coalition statement describes bus strike as a ‘mistake’
  • JIAT says coalition should review rules of engagement to ensure compliance

RIYADH: An airstrike by the Arab Coalition to Restore the Legitimacy in Yemen last month that killed dozens of people traveling on a bus, lacked military justification and requires a review of the rules of engagement, a coalition body said on Saturday.
Mansour Ahmed Al-Mansour, legal adviser to the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT), said the strike had been based on intelligence indicating that the bus was carrying Houthi leaders, a legitimate military target, but delays in executing the strike and receiving a no-strike order should be investigated.

“There was a clear delay in preparing the fighter jet at the appropriate time and place, thus losing (the opportunity) to target this bus as a military target in an open area in order to avoid such collateral damage,” Al-Mansour told reporters in the Saudi capital.
“The team believes that the coalition forces should immediately review the application of their rules of engagement to ensure compliance...” he said.
The Joint Forces Command of the Arab Coalition on Saturday reviewed JIAT’s findings regarding the allegations surrounding the operation carried out by coalition forces in the Saada governorate.
The International Committee for the Red Cross said at least 29 children were killed and dozens more injured when the bus was hit in Dahyan area in Saada province on Aug 9 .
The conclusions of JIAT’s investigation indicated that the raid on Dahyan area did not comply with the coalition’s rules of engagement.
As a result the coalition’s Joint Forces Command expressed regret over the mistakes and extends its deepest sympathies, condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims, saying its accepts the JIAT’s results and findings.
Upon receiving the official findings, the Joint Forces Command will undertake legal proceedings to hold those responsible and accountable for committing mistakes, according to the rules and regulations related to such cases.
The coalition said it will “continue to revise and enhance its rules of engagement, based on the operational lessons learned, in a manner that guarantees the non-recurrence of such incidents.”
The Joint Forces Command said it will also task the Joint Committee to grant voluntary assistance to the families affected in Yemen, and communicate with the legitimate Yemeni government to acquire their names and identities so compensations can be provided under regulatory measures.
The Joint Forces Command reaffirmed its continued commitment to the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), its customary rules and relevant conventions. It pledged to continue “applying the rules of engagement in accordance with
the highest international standards and practices, which will guarantee respect of the law and the preservation of civilian lives and possessions.”
During the press conference, Al-Mansour said that “an order had been given not to target the bus, which was among civilians, but the order arrived late.”

Another error was that “the target did not pose an immediate threat and that targeting the bus in a residential area was unjustified at that time,” he said.
The JIAT’s investigation into the attack on the bus examined the flights on the day and video footage of the aircraft that carried out the raid, he added.

Mansour repeated on Saturday that information from intelligence services suggested the bus had been “transporting Houthi leaders.” 
But Mansour admitted the strike had “caused collateral damage.”

He also recommended that the coalition hold those responsible for the error accountable and compensate victims.
He said a coalition probe had found that errors were made before the strike, and called for those responsible to be “punished.”


Amnesty urges Lebanon to help end domestic worker abuse

An Asian domestic worker walks her employer's dog in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, on April 23, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 April 2019
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Amnesty urges Lebanon to help end domestic worker abuse

  • Ethiopia and the Philippines have banned their citizens from domestic work in Lebanon, but still their citizens find ways to come

BEIRUT: Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Lebanon to end what it described as an “inherently abusive” migration sponsorship system governing the lives of tens of thousands of foreigners working in private homes.
Domestic workers in Lebanon are excluded from the labor law, and instead obtain legal residency though their employers’ sponsorship under the so-called “kafala” system.
But activists say this leaves the maids, nannies and carers at the mercy of their employers and unable to leave without their permission, including in numerous documented cases of abuse.
“Amnesty International is calling on the Lebanese authorities to end the kafala system and extend labor protections to migrant domestic workers,” the London-based rights group said.
“The Lebanese parliament should amend the labor law to include domestic workers under its protection,” including to allow them to join unions, the group said.
Lebanon hosts more than 250,000 registered domestic workers from countries in Africa and Asia, the vast majority of them women.
In a report released Wednesday titled “Their house is my prison,” Amnesty surveyed 32 domestic workers employed mostly in and around Beirut, revealing “alarming patterns of abuse.”
Among them, 10 women said they were not allowed to leave their employer’s house, with some saying they were locked in.
Twenty-seven said their employers had confiscated their passports.
Many worked overtime, 14 were not allowed a single day off each week, and several had their monthly salaries revoked or decreased, despite it being a breach of their contracts.
The labor ministry introduced a standard contract for domestic workers in 2009, but the forms are often written in Arabic, a language they cannot read.
The government in late 2018 said it had translated the contracts into several other languages.
Amnesty registered eight cases of forced labor and four of human trafficking, the report said.
Six reported severe physical abuse, while almost all had been subjected to humiliating treatment and several were deprived of food.
“Sometimes I would get so hungry... I used to mix water with sugar when I was hungry and drink it,” one worker said.
With the abuse taking a toll on their mental health, six said they had contemplated or attempted suicide.
Only four of those interviewed had private rooms, while the rest were relegated to living rooms, storage rooms, kitchens or balconies.
“There is a man in the house who can enter the living room any time he wants,” said one worker who was forced to sleep in the living room.
Activists accuse the Lebanese authorities of being lax in bringing abusive employers to account.
Ethiopia and the Philippines have banned their citizens from domestic work in Lebanon, but still their citizens find ways to come.
In 2008, Human Rights Watch found that migrant domestic workers in Lebanon were dying at a rate of more than one per week from suicide or in failed escapes.
Many other countries in the Arab world also follow the “kafala” system for household workers.