The Honorable John F. Kerry
US Department of State
2201 C Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20520
August 19, 2016
Dear Secretary Kerry,
We write to you regarding your upcoming visit to Kenya, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. We appreciate the administration’s consistent and engaged policies for both African countries and believe the trip also offers an important opportunity to address challenges in South Sudan and Somalia. In the case of Saudi Arabia, we continue to have concerns about violations of the laws of war in the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen and believe the upcoming trip presents an important opportunity for you to emphasize the potential consequences if Saudi Arabia fails to improve its conduct.
Throughout your trip in all three countries, we urge you to be clear that the United States expects its partners to protect the equal rights of all, including marginalized communities; to ensure security forces protect instead of prey on civilians; and to commit to, as President Obama said on his 2015 trip to Kenya, “uphold the rule of law, and respect … human rights, and … treat everybody who’s peaceful and law-abiding fairly and equally.” We urge you to reemphasize these sentiments clearly, both in your private meetings and in public commentary.
During your visit in May 2015, you called attention to the fact that “President Kenyatta reinforced his agreement with us that human rights and the rule of law have to be respected in the counterterrorism efforts.” While there have been some efforts to move in this direction, they have been mostly cosmetic.
We continue to document serious abuses in counterterrorism operations in Kenya, including enforced disappearances and torture. Over an eight-month period, we documented at least 34 cases of extrajudicial killings and another 11 deaths of people last seen in state custody over alleged links or knowledge of Al-Shabab in Nairobi and the northeastern part of the country.
Our research showed that multiple security agencies, including the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), especially the Directorate of Military Intelligence, units of the Kenya Police, including the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit and the Administration Police, National Intelligence Service, and Kenya Wildlife Service rangers have played a significant role in these arrests and enforced disappearances. Currently civilian oversight mechanisms are either weak or lack the mandate to investigate abuse, particularly those carried out by the KDF. Thus far, senior Kenyan officials have not publicly acknowledged these abuses, not committed to any investigations, nor expressed concern for the whereabouts of those who are missing.
Given multiple units involved in the arrest and custody of people who have been forcibly disappeared, the numerous allegations of enforced disappearances and the government’s lack of commitment to investigate, we believe that the evidence indicates that these abuses are more than simply the work of rogue officers. Rather, we believe there is some level of coordination and control by government or security officials.
We hope you will raise these issues in your meetings with President Kenyatta and senior defense officials. Specifically, we hope you will urge President Kenyatta to publicly call for an end to extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and related abuses. In addition, he should urgently establish an independent and credible multiagency commission to investigate ongoing cases of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and torture in counterterrorism operations country-wide.
Last year, you called on Kenya to “not forcibly repatriate refugees.” However, the Kenyan government’s May 2016 termination of prima facie refugee recognition of Somalis, the dissolution of its Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA), and the announcement that it intends to close Dadaab refugee camp by November puts thousands of lives in jeopardy. Human Rights Watch has long documented Kenyan police abuse of Somali refugees, such as rape, beatings, arbitrary detention, and extortion of money and law enforcement operations marked by discrimination against Somalis. As a state party to the 1969 Africa Refugee Convention, Kenya has a legal obligation to ensure that anyone at risk of generalized violence, including Somali nationals, will not face unlawful forced return. In the specific case of Somali asylum seekers, we are deeply concerned that such returns will result in serious harm due to the ongoing conflict between Al-Shabab, government forces, and clan militia.
Given the government’s stated intention to close Dadaab, we also remain concerned that refugees and asylum seekers could face increased harassment and extortion if the returns process intensifies. Accordingly, we urge you to press the Kenyan government to rescind the decision to repatriate Somali refugees and close Dadaab. In addition, the Kenyan government should commit to uphold their obligations under international refugee law, and ensure that all asylum seekers have equal access to asylum processes. Given the dissolution of the DRA, the large number of unregistered Somali refugees, the high levels of generalized violence in Somalia, and the wider refugee definition in the Africa Refugee Convention, we recommend that you urge the Kenyan government to renew prima facie refugee recognition for Somali asylum seekers.
Finally, as we highlighted in our letter to you in April 2015, Kenyan civil society and the media operate in an increasingly difficult environment. We remain concerned that hostile official rhetoric, buttressed by efforts to enact restrictive new laws, could have a sharp impact on the availability of independent news and analysis and undermines freedom of expression and association, particularly in the run-up to the planned August 2017 elections. We believe you should continue to urge all members of the Kenyan government, both in public and in private, that the protection of civil society organizations – in line with the September 2014 Presidential Memorandum on Civil Society – is a top priority for the United States and that any new legislation should respect international standards on freedom of expression and association.
Given the cross border challenges, Kenya’s security will partly depend upon stability and increased security in Somalia. Your visit to Kenya and meetings with interlocutors of the African Union Forces in Somalia (AMISOM) offers the opportunity to make clear that the US is committed to supporting an international force in Somalia that is accountable for their conduct and that the presence of regional forces in Somalia does not contribute to further harm to civilians on the ground.
We continue to document abuses by AMISOM and associated troops, including sexual exploitation and abuse and unlawful attacks. Commitments to investigate abuses of civilians remain largely unfulfilled. For example, we are currently investigating an incident in which Ethiopian forces indiscriminately killed 14 civilians during an operation against Al-Shabab in Somalia’s Bay region in July. So far, despite public commitments by AMISOM’s leadership, there have been no investigations into the incident.
We hope you will raise this issue in all Somalia-related meetings and push for and support efforts to strengthen accountability mechanisms within AMISOM. Specifically, we encourage you to call on all troop-contributing countries operating in Somalia to deploy additional foreign military and civilian investigators, prosecutors and military courts inside the country, and greater information sharing within AMISOM forces and with the UN.
Your trip offers a timely opportunity to convene regional leaders on the crisis in South Sudan. Although sanctions action may be difficult to achieve multilaterally at the UN, we believe you should use this moment to push South Sudan’s neighbors to join coordinated bilateral sanctions against key human rights abusers. During a mission in July, our researchers documented how government and opposition forces soldiers used light and heavy weapons, used force indiscriminately in densely populated areas, and killed displaced people sheltering in UN camps, including two peacekeepers, and damaged a clinic.
We also found evidence that during and following the fighting in July, government soldiers deliberately killed, raped, and assaulted civilians, often along ethnic lines. Sexual violence was rampant, with the UN reporting more than 200 incidents during and after the fighting. In one brutal attack, soldiers executed a journalist and raped several foreign women working for international aid organizations. Soldiers also extensively looted humanitarian compounds, markets, and homes.
Commanders at the highest levels knew and should have known of these abuses and stopped them. Kenya, Ethiopia, and other regional partners host the assets of many of these individuals. We have urged the UN to impose targeted individual sanctions on those responsible, and hope you will also urge neighboring governments to consider bilateral sanctions.
The recent Juba violence and abuses underscore the need for accountability. We have urged South Sudan’s leaders to investigate and prosecute crimes, and have called on the African Union to proceed with preparations for the Hybrid Court envisioned in the 2015 peace agreement. That court would have jurisdiction over the most serious crimes committed since the beginning of the conflict, in December 2013, and over crimes committed in Juba in July. During your May 2015 visit, you pledged $5 million dollars. We urge you to make clear that some of those pledged funds will be used to assist the African Union Commission in its efforts to move forward with plans to take key steps towards setting the court up by October 2016.
The Juba violence is also a reminder that a comprehensive arms embargo is long overdue. An embargo would increase the cost of importing weapons, reduce civilian harm, immediately stop the maintenance of attack helicopters, and send a message that continued abuses against civilians and obstruction of the UN mission will not be tolerated. The United States has already said that it is prepared to support imposing an arms embargo on South Sudan if obstruction of the UN peacekeepers continues; while we believe that there is no need to wait any longer to move ahead with an arms embargo, it would help to get regional leaders to publicly back the prospect of an imminent arms embargo. Although both the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development have called for an arms embargo in the past, in recent days they have been silent on the issue. We hope that you can use this trip to ask regional leaders to express their public support for imposing a long overdue arms embargo on the country.
While there have been some notable efforts at reform by the Nigerian government in its fight to defeat the militant Islamic group Boko Haram, the group remains a serious threat to civilian security, and official reform has stalled.
As you are aware, in responding to Boko Haram, government security forces have been implicated in grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including incommunicado detention, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances. The Nigerian police have also been credibly implicated in extrajudicial killings of Boko Haram members or suspects. The Nigerian government is taking steps to address the heavy-handed and abusive response to the insurgency by security forces, but much more needs to be done, especially if the military is to genuinely protect civilians in the northeast while also addressing ongoing Boko Haram threats.
The humanitarian situation in the northeast remains dire. Recent reports suggest that at least 500,000 people in Borno state are displaced or cut off from humanitarian aid. Human Rights Watch has documented a campaign of attacks on schools, students, and teachers by Boko Haram in the northeast, and the inadequate government response has led to over one million children without access to education.
Abusive conduct by security and police forces also extends beyond the northeast. Of particular concern is the attack in Zaria in December 2015, when Nigerian soldiers killed hundreds of Shia Muslims in an attack that appears to have been wholly unjustified. A recent report of an official inquiry into the clashes concluded that the military was involved in unlawful killings and that its response was “disproportionate” and “excessive.”
The United States should ensure that any further support to the Nigerian military – including any impending sales, like the Super Tucano aircraft sale – is tied to clear progress on implementing meaningful reforms. In addition, we hope you will make clear during your trip that a critical part of reform includes meaningful progress on accountability for previous abuses by security and police forces.
Your visit to Saudi Arabia offers an important opportunity to raise concerns about the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. Over the last year and a half of the conflict, Human Rights Watch has documented numerous violations of the laws of war by the Saudi-led coalition, including indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes that have caused high civilian casualties. These include repeated strikes on residential homes, markets, medical facilities, schools, civilian factories, and structures that did not appear to be military objectives. In the renewed fighting since the breakdown of peace talks, coalition airstrikes have hit homes, another hospital, a school, and a civilian factory.
Under the laws of war, the United States, by directly assisting coalition military operations such as by providing targeting intelligence and in-air refueling, is a party to the conflict in Yemen. As such, the US has a legal obligation to investigate alleged violations of the laws of war in which US forces may have been responsible and appropriate prosecute war crimes that may have been committed. We are unaware of US participation in any investigations of alleged laws of war violations committed in Yemen.
The United States has also for many years sold munitions, including cluster munitions, weapons, and weapons platforms to Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch has documented that US-supplied munitions have been used in apparently unlawful airstrikes in Yemen. As you know, members of Congress have made several attempts this year to condition or restrict US military sales and assistance to Saudi Arabia. They are also likely to do so with respect to the $1.15 billion shipment of tanks, guns, and related equipment and services that the Pentagon revealed last week. Human Rights Watch supports a full arms embargo against Saudi Arabia until it adopts serious measures to abide by the laws of war, including impartially investigating alleged violations by its forces. Suspending weapons shipments would encourage Saudi Arabia to improve its compliance with international law.
Given growing congressional concern, we urge you to make clear to the Saudi government that airstrikes and other attacks that violate the laws of war need to end, and to credibly and impartially investigate alleged violations, which to date they have failed to do.
By participating in attacks that violate the laws of war and by providing weapons and munitions to a military force that can be expected to use them unlawfully, the US risks complicity in violations by coalition forces. This would be damaging both for US long-term interests in Yemen, including counterterrorism concerns, and its standing in the region.
We urge you to press the Saudi government to support the presence of independent international observers with access to assist in investigations of alleged laws of war violations by all parties to the conflict. We also ask that you call upon the Saudi government to meet with independent human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, to discuss issues of concern. (To date, our letters seeking information and requests for meetings have gone unanswered.)
We look forward to discussing these and other issues with you or your staff.
Report: Deaths and Disappearances: Abuses in Counterterrorism Operations in Nairobi and in Northeastern Kenya July 19, 2016: Kenyan security forces have forcibly disappeared at least 34 people in the past two years during abusive counterterrorism operations in Nairobi and in northeastern Kenya. Kenyan authorities should end the abuses in counterterrorism operations and promptly investigate the enforced disappearances and deaths of detainees in the northeast. The 87-page report, “Deaths and Disappearances: Abuses in Counterterrorism Operations in Nairobi and in Northeastern Kenya,” documents 34 instances in multi-agency security operations in which the military was actively involved in raiding homes and compounds to arrest people who were allegedly suspected of links with the armed Islamist group, Al-Shabab. But months, and in some cases over a year, later, suspects have not been charged with any crimes and families cannot locate them. In each case, although families reported the disappearance to the police and sought help from various authorities, the authorities failed to inform them of the detainees’ whereabouts or to properly investigate allegations of abuse.
Investigate Killings of Lawyer, Two Men: Bodies Dumped in River after Enforced Disappearance July 3, 2016: Kenyan authorities must urgently investigate the killing last week of three men, including a human rights lawyer, and ensure that those found responsible are held to account in fair trials, 34 Kenyan and international human rights organizations said.
Police Killings During Protests: Investigate Use of Excessive Force in Western Region June 20, 2016: At least 5 people died and 60 were wounded by gunfire as police tried to obstruct two recent protests in Nyanza region. Kenyan authorities should promptly investigate police use of excessive force during the demonstrations, on May 23 and June 6, 2016, in the Nyanza region of Western Kenya, and bring anyone responsible to account.
Ending Refugee Hosting, Closing Camps: Ensure Required Protections for Refugees May 6, 2016: Kenya’s announcement on May 6, 2016 that it would no longer host refugees is contrary to principles it has pledged to respect.
Report: "You Are All Terrorists": Kenyan Police Abuse of Refugees in Nairobi May 29, 2013: Kenyan police in Nairobi tortured, raped, and otherwise abused and arbitrarily detained at least 1,000 refugees between mid-November 2012 and late January 2013, Human Rights Watch said in a report. The Kenyan authorities should immediately open an independent public investigation, and the United Nations refugee agency – which has not spoken publicly about the abuses – should document and publicly report on any future abuses against refugees, Human Rights Watch said. The 68-page report, “‘You are All Terrorists:’ Kenyan Police Abuse of Refugees in Nairobi,”is based on interviews with 101 refugees, asylum seekers, and Kenyans of Somali ethnicity. The report documents how police used grenade and other attacks by unknown people in Nairobi’s mainly Somali suburb of Eastleigh and a government order to relocate urban refugees to refugee camps as an excuse to rape, beat, extort money from, and arbitrarily detain, at least 1,000 people. The police described their victims as “terrorists,” and demanded payments to free them. Human Rights Watch also documented 50 cases in which the abuses would amount to torture.
Report: 'Like Fish in Poisonous Waters’: Attacks on Media Freedom in Somalia May 3, 2016: Both the Somali government and the Islamist armed group Al-Shabab are using abusive tactics to sway media coverage, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today, on World Press Freedom Day. The government should act decisively to end intimidation and violence against journalists by state security forces and Al-Shabab militants. Somalis’ need for a free and vibrant media is especially important in light of the electoral process planned for 2016. The 74-page report, “‘Like Fish in Poisonous Waters’: Attacks on Media Freedom in Somalia,” documents killings, threats, and arbitrary detention of journalists since 2014. The Somali federal government and regional authorities have used various abusive tactics to affect media coverage, including arrests and forced closures of media outlets, threats, and occasionally, criminal charges. Al-Shabab has targeted journalists as part of its campaign against the Somali government and for reporting deemed unfavorable. Government authorities have failed to adequately investigate and prosecute those responsible for abuses, leaving journalists to live in fear.
Forced Evictions of Displaced People: Tens of Thousands at Risk in Capital April 20, 2015: Somali state security forces forcibly evicted about 21,000 displaced people in the capital, Mogadishu, in early March 2015. The authorities beat some of those evicted on March 4 and 5, destroyed their shelters, and left them without water, food, or other assistance. Many of those affected had fled their homes during the 2011 famine and fighting, and have been repeatedly displaced since then. Somali authorities should cease forcibly evicting displaced people in Mogadishu, and adequately protect and assist them, Human Rights Watch said.
Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia May 9, 2016
Report: Hostages of the Gatekeepers: Abuses against Internally Displaced in Mogadishu, Somalia March 28, 2013: Members of state security forces and armed groups have raped, beaten, and otherwise abused displaced Somalis who have arrived in Somalia’s capital fleeing famine and armed conflict since 2011, Human Rights Watch said in a report. The new Somali government should urgently improve the protection and security of Mogadishu’s internally displaced population. The 80-page report, “Hostages of the Gatekeepers: Abuses against Internally Displaced in Mogadishu, Somalia,” details serious violations, including physical attacks, restrictions on movement and access to food and shelter, and clan-based discrimination against the displaced in Mogadishu from the height of the famine in mid-2011 through 2012. Interviews with 70 displaced people documented the ways in which government forces, affiliated militia, and private parties, notably camp managers known as “gatekeepers,” prey upon the vulnerable community.
Killings, Rapes, Looting in Juba: Arms Embargo, Additional UN Sanctions Needed August 145, 2016: Soldiers killed and raped civilians and extensively looted civilian property, including humanitarian goods, during and after clashes between government and opposition forces in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, in July, 2016, Human Rights Watch said. In many cases, government forces appeared to target non-Dinka civilians. As a result of indiscriminate attacks, including shooting and shelling, shells landed in camps for displaced people inside United Nations bases, and in other densely populated areas in the city, killing and wounding civilians. Human Rights Watch researchers visiting Juba in July after the clashes documented multiple crimes, most committed by government soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
Dispatches: Giving Justice the Slip in South Sudan June 8, 2016: Experience over the past two decades – including in Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia, and Chile – has shown that criminal trials for wartime atrocities have not undermined peace. On the contrary, the failure to pursue justice often fuels further crimes, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo and, most recently, Syria. South Sudan is a prime example of how bad things can get. Despite years, even decades, of atrocities by commanders on all sides, peace deals – including from the North-South conflict – have repeatedly rewarded abusive leaders with plum positions and provided de facto blanket amnesties. Abuse of civilians has been a path to promotion and power.
Civilians Killed, Tortured in Western Region: Provide Justice for Army Abuses in Western Regions May 24, 2016: South Sudanese government soldiers have carried out a wide range of often-deadly attacks on civilians in and around the western town of Wau. Soldiers have killed, tortured, raped, and detained civilians and looted and burned down homes. The abuses in the Western Bahr el Ghazal region took place during government counterinsurgency operations that intensified after an August 2015 peace deal. The attacks underscore the need for the national unity government to take immediate steps toward accountability for crimes by all warring parties since the start of South Sudan’s conflict in December 2013.
Dispatches: Action, not Words, Needed to End Abuses in South Sudan April 27, 2016: South Sudan’s leaders may finally be ready to work toward peace, but they cannot gloss over the crimes with rhetorical niceties. They need to act. Both sides should investigate and prosecute human rights abuses and the government should order national security officials to charge or release the dozens of men arbitrarily detained in Juba. Finally, they need to show their commitment to justice and accountability by reaching out to the African Union Commission – tasked with setting up a hybrid court to try the most serious crimes – to establish the tribunal without delay. These steps, more powerfully than words, will signal their recognition that justice is necessary to redress “the situation we leaders have created.”
Dispatches: Missed Opportunity for an Arms Embargo on South Sudan April 8, 2016: The UN Security Council missed an opportunity this week to move forward with an embargo when the United States, which leads on the issue at the UN, chose to postpone the discussion until June.
Report: “We Can Die Too”: Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in South Sudan December 14, 2015: South Sudanese leaders should help end widespread use of child soldiers by suspending and investigating commanders who have recruited children, Human Rights Watch said in a report. Thousands of children have fought in the South Sudan conflict, including under commanders from both government and opposition forces. The 65-page report, “‘We Can Die Too’: Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in South Sudan,” names more than 15 commanders and officials from both the government Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the rebel SPLA-in Opposition and their allies who have used child soldiers. The report is based on interviews with 101 child soldiers who were either forcibly recruited or joined forces to protect themselves and their communities. They said they lived for months without enough food, far away from family, and were thrown into terrifying gun battles in which they were injured and saw friends killed. Children also expressed deep regret that they had lost time they should have spent in school.
Dispatches: Nigerian Military Used Excessive Force Against Shia Group August 1, 2016: An official inquiry into clashes between members of a Shia minority group and the Nigerian military has stated the Nigerian Army’s response to altercations in Zaria, Kaduna State, between December 12 and 14, 2015 was “disproportionate”.
Report: “They Set the Classrooms on Fire”: Attacks on Education in Northeast Nigeria April 11, 2016: Boko Haram’s attacks on schools, students, and teachers in northeast Nigeria have had a devastating impact on education. The conflict has left nearly 1 million children with little or no access to school, and Nigeria’s security forces have contributed to the problem by using schools as military bases, putting children at further risk of attack from the Islamist armed group. The 86-page report, “‘They Set the Classrooms on Fire’: Attacks on Education in Northeast Nigeria,” documents Boko Haram’s increasingly brutal assaults on schools, students, and teachers since 2009 in Borno, Yobe, and Kano states. Between 2009 and 2015, Boko Haram’s attacks destroyed more than 910 schools and forced at least 1,500 more to close. At least 611 teachers have been deliberately killed and another 19,000 forced to flee. The group has abducted more than 2,000 civilians, many of them women and girls, including large groups of students.
A Year On, No Word on 300 Abducted Children: Government Response to Damasak Attacks Woefully Inadequate March 29, 2016: The Nigerian government should take urgent steps to secure the release of about 400 women and children, including at least 300 elementary school students, abducted by Boko Haram from the town of Damasak in Borno State a year ago. It is unclear whether the Nigerian government has made any serious effort to secure their release.
Dispatches: Protect Lives, Not Just Territory, Against Attacks February 4, 2016: Boko Haram may no longer ‘hold’ key towns, but it continues to commit crimes against civilians. The desire of the government to return the northeast to normalcy cannot be an excuse to press civilians to return to their home areas when they feel these are not safe. Greater efforts to prevent deadly crimes against civilians in the northeast should be the focus of the government, not just the recovery of territory.
Army Attack on Shia Unjustified: Independent, Impartial Probes Essential December 22, 2015: The killing of hundreds of Shia Muslim members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), by Nigerian army soldiers from December 12 to 14, 2015, appears to have been wholly unjustified. The Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the government should be sufficiently independent and impartial to hold those responsible to account.
Report: Bombing Businesses: Saudi Coalition Airstrikes on Yemen's Civilian Economic Structures July 10, 2016: Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes have unlawfully hit numerous factories, warehouses, and other civilian economic structures in Yemen, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. In the absence of credible and impartial investigations in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other coalition members should agree to an independent international inquiry into these and other allegedly unlawful attacks. The 59-page report, “Bombing Businesses: Saudi Coalition Airstrikes on Yemen’s Civilian Economic Structures,” examines in detail 17 apparently unlawful airstrikes on 13 civilian economic sites, including factories, commercial warehouses, a farm, and two power facilities. These strikes killed 130 civilians and injured 171 more. Collectively, the facilities employed over 2,500 people; following the attacks, many of the factories ended their production and hundreds of workers lost their livelihoods. Further, with more than 20 million people in desperate need of humanitarian aid, the strikes on factories are contributing to the shortages of food, medicine, and other critical needs of Yemen’s civilians.
Suspend Saudi Arabia from UN Human Rights Council June 29, 2016: Saudi Arabia has committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its time as a Council member, and it has used its position on the Council to shield itself from accountability for its violations in Yemen. Saudi Arabia leads the military coalition fighting in Yemen, with Riyadh hosting its command control structure. Since 26 March 2015, the coalition has carried out numerous attacks that have violated international humanitarian law, including indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes that have killed and injured many civilians. It has repeatedly used internationally banned cluster munitions, including in civilian populated areas.
US Bombs Used in Deadliest Market Strike: Coalition Allies Should Stop Selling Weapons to Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes using United States-supplied bombs killed at least 97 civilians, including 25 children, in northwestern Yemen on March 15, 2016, Human Rights Watch said today. The two strikes, on a crowded market in the village of Mastaba that may have also killed about 10 Houthi fighters, caused indiscriminate or foreseeably disproportionate loss of civilian life, in violation of the laws of war. Such unlawful attacks when carried out deliberately or recklessly are war crimes.
Embargo Arms to Saudi Arabia: US, UK, France Risk Complicity in Unlawful Airstrikes March 21, 2016: The United States, United Kingdom, France, and others should suspend all weapon sales to Saudi Arabia until it not only curtails its unlawful airstrikes in Yemen but also credibly investigates alleged violations.