JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has strongly criticized the report of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights for Yemen, saying it had fallen away from objectivity, rushed to conclusions and made several errors in its approach and contents.
The Kingdom’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel, said that the Kingdom had written back to the UN High Commission with its criticisms.
He said in a speech to the Human Rights Council during a dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report, which included the report of the international and regional expert group, that the report ignored the information provided for the Group of Experts during its meetings with agencies in the coalition for the support of legitimacy in Yemen.
Al-Wasel added that the Kingdom was surprised by the experts group’s claim that it did not receive specific information from the coalition countries about the targeting procedures, although they were informed of the procedures in place during the group’s visit to the coalition’s command in Riyadh.
It was also surprising, Al-Wasel said, that the experts group based its conclusions on guessing and expectations and the examination of a limited number of violations, when its mandate includes all violations since September 2014.
He said that the report clearly ignored the widespread violations that occurred when Houthi militias swept Yemeni cities, took control of the capital and the state’s institutions and chased the president and his government’s members, and this was the basis of the current Yemeni crisis.
The ambassador added that the report also ignored the fact that the Iranian-backed Houthi militias obstructed humanitarian aid into Yemen and detained and looted many vessels carrying aid.
He also said that ballistic missiles, more than 197 of which targeted Saudi Arabian cities, represent a violation of international humanitarian law, which was not mentioned in the report along with the violations of the Houthis. Nor did the report address the main role of Houthi militias in planting naval and land mines in violation of international law.
Al-Wasel said that the coalition affirms the need for the international community to support the legitimate government in Yemen and reactivate the state’s institutions.
He added that the coalition affirms its full commitment to all provisions of international humanitarian law. The coalition, he said, had developed mechanisms and measures to deal quickly and transparently with mistakes during military operations.
Meanwhile, Kuwait’s permanent delegate to the UN, Ambassador Jamal Al-Ghunaim told the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council that the report was “deeply flawed.”
“[The report] seems to hurl false accusations at the Saudi-led Coalition,” Al-Ghunaim said.
He said the UN experts singled out the coalition of Arab states fighting Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi militia as accountable for the human rights violations in the war-torn country.
“The Arab Coalition never ceased to cooperate with the UN specialists in Yemen to ensure that civilian casualties are averted,” he said.
The Kuwaiti diplomat went on to give the Arab coalition credit for their “efforts to restore normalcy and hope to the lives of the Yemeni people.”