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Amnesty calls for probe of torture, running secret prisons in southern Yemen

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YemenExtra

Y.A

Amnesty International has accused the UAE and its paid fighters of torturing detainees at a network of secret prisons in southern Yemen.

The UK-based rights group further revealed in a statement on Thursday that large numbers of Yemeni men had been subjected to enforced disappearance after being arbitrarily arrested by the Emirati and militia forces.

“The families of these detainees find themselves in an endless nightmare where their loved ones have been forcibly disappeared by UAE-backed forces. When they demand to know where their loved ones are held, or if they are even still alive, their requests are met with silence or intimidation,” said Tirana Hassan, the director of crisis response at Amnesty International.

Last month, the UAE mission in Geneva said that militia fighting on the Emirates’ behalf were in “complete” control of prison systems in southern Yemen, including the port city of Aden, which a former Yemeni regime has self-proclaimed as its “capital.”

An investigation conducted between March 2016 and May 2018 in the southern governorates of Aden, Lahj, Abyan, Shabwa and Hadramout documented widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment in Yemeni and Emirati facilities, including beatings, use of electric shocks and sexual violence, Amnesty said.

The UAE, a key US ally, says it has never run prisons or secret detention centres in Yemen. It and its Yemeni allies have denied past allegations of torturing prisoners,  despite all the evidence to the contrary, Amnesty added.

Amnesty said in a statement on Thursday that scores of men had been subjected to enforced disappearance after being arbitrarily detained by UAE and Yemeni forces “operating outside the command of their own government”.

On June 20, the Associated Press, citing victims and witnesses, reported that Emirati officers had been torturing and sexually assaulting hundreds of captives at the UAE-run prisons in southern Yemen.

Amnesty International called for an investigation into these violations as war crimes.

The Amnesty report also called on the United States to do more to ensure it does not receive information obtained by its UAE allies through torture, and to promote compliance with human rights laws.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of its regional allies — mainly the united Arab Emirates and Jordan — started  a war against Yemen with the declared aim of crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement, who had taken over from the staunch Riyadh ally and fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, while also seeking to secure the Saudi border with its southern neighbor. Three years and over 600,000 dead and injured Yemeni people and  prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country, the war has yielded little to that effect.

Several Western countries, the United States and Britain in particular, supply the Saudi-led coalition with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

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