Saudi Arabia prefers no UN Yemen war crime inquiry due to 'timing'

Saudi Arabia prefers no UN Yemen war crime inquiry due to 'timing'”

Geneva - Abdulaziz Alwasil, Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Geneva said on Wednesday that the time is not right for an independent worldwide inquiry into human rights violations in Yemen.

The British government, a principal backer of Saudi Arabia, refused attempts by the Netherlands past year for an independent inquiry - leading to the the Netherlands' proposal being watered down to suggest the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) dispatch a mission to monitor Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, which leads an worldwide coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen, said the time was not right for an global inquiry.

Canada and the Netherlands are backing the idea of an global inquiry, but Al-Wasil said a national investigation by Yemen's National Commission would be preferable.

"We agree with the actions, including the COI, to promote the political solving of the Yemen crisis", a Chinese delegate told the meeting, which was boycotted by the Arab group of countries supporting a rival Saudi-led resolution.

"We are working together to hopefully come to a compromise", said Abdulaziz Al-Wasil, Saudi Arabia's envoy to Geneva. The fighting has killed more than 10,000 people and fomented a cholera epidemic, and the United Nations has said Yemen is the world's greatest humanitarian disaster. "Whether this is the right time to establish an worldwide commission with the difficulties on the ground, and we knew in advance that they will face tremendous obstacles in terms of access".

"Not having an worldwide inquiry would be a green light to the parties to the conflict", said Radhya Al-Mutwakel, co-director of Yemen's Mwatana Organization for Human Rights. Saudi Arabia and Arab allies have thwarted past efforts at the council to create an worldwide investigation, and they were expected to detail their own proposed resolution on Yemen this week. "It's always easier for them basically to try to understand the dynamics of their country, and also they have connections to go to different regions", he said.

For the past two years the 47-member Human Rights Council has rejected the Dutch demand for an global probe and backed the Saudi view that favours a Yemeni commission.

A Saudi-led coaltion is accused by rights groups of possible war crimes in Yemen, with evidence mounting of the deliberate bombing of schools, hospitals and civilian infrastructure in its campaign to support the exiled president, Abd Rabbuh Hadi.

Airstrikes by the US -backed coalition in the past two years have targeted civilian gatherings at weddings, funerals, hospitals, markets and houses. Over 10,000 people have been killed and three million others displaced as the conflict coupled with a naval and air blockade has pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation.

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