Justice, accountability are key to peace in Yemen, report finds

Justice, accountability are key to peace in Yemen, report finds

After seven years of armed conflict, civil society organizations in Yemen believe justice and accountability are essential in establishing a lasting peace, a report from the Open Society Foundations finds.

Based on interviews with leaders of human rights, youth, and victims' organizations, the report, A Passage to Justice: Selected Yemeni civil society views for transitional justice and long-term accountability in Yemen (43 pages, PDF), highlights the challenges associated with advancing transitional justice following a protracted conflict involving multiple parties — in this case, Yemeni and non-Yemeni and state and non-state actors. Stakeholders interviewed for the report agreed that the transitional justice process must be focused on the concerns and needs of victims and include mechanisms for truth telling, redress, and mental health support, and while they did not show a clear preference with respect to national or international courts, they believe that institutional reform is needed to ensure judicial independence and the ability of Yemeni courts to render justice in an impartial manner. 

Recommendations for long-term accountability include supporting the efforts of Yemeni civil society organizations to expand the documentation of human rights and international humanitarian law violations; collect, preserve, and analyze information and evidence; establish an accountability agenda that addresses violations of social and economic rights; and harness open-source technology to support and strengthen accountability and redress initiatives.

"As part of its new push to the end the war, the U.S. must also back Yemeni civil society's efforts to ensure real accountability for the crimes committed, and for the lives destroyed," said Chris Rogers, a senior program officer at the Open Society Human Rights Initiative and an editor of the report. "Because for many Yemenis, it is not U.S. bombs that are the real enemy to lasting peace — it's impunity."