YEMEN: Government urged to tackle human rights concerns [Archives:2005/865/Local News]

August 4 2005

SANA, 1 Aug 2005 (IRIN) – The United Nations Human Rights Committee took issue with Yemen on Friday for not implementing many of the recommendations it had made during its last review of civil and political rights in the country in 2002.

The committee, which monitors adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by those states that have signed up to it, appreciated the creation of a Ministry of Human Rights in Yemen in May 2003, as well as the declared commitment of the state to creating a culture of human rights.

However, it noted with concern that the recommendations made after Yemen's last report three years ago had not been fully taken into consideration.

Introducing the country's latest report in Geneva earlier in July, Director-General of External Relations and International Criminal Police, Abdulkader Kahtan, said Yemen had made considerable strides on human rights.

The Yemeni government had justified its lack of progress on some important issues, the committee said, on the basis that the recommendations were not in line with religious principles in the country. A system of Shari'ah or Islamic law operates in Yemen.

The Human Rights Committee rejected the government's argument that it was not possible to abide at the same time by religious principles and some obligations under the Covenant” on Civil and Political Rights.

In doing so, it urged Sana to ensure that its desire to abide by religious principles did not cause it to civil and political rights in the country under the Covenant, which it had accepted without any reservations.

Yemen is one of 154 state parties to the Covenant.

The committee received Yemen's progress report under the treaty earlier this month and, after oral hearings with country's delegation and written supplementary questions, released its formal conclusions and recommendations on Friday.

The independence of the judiciary, discrimination suffered by women, domestic violence, so-called honour killing, the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), and alleged grave rights violations in the name of combating terrorism were among the matters that most concerned committee experts.

Other concerns included the high rate of illiteracy, child labour, and the trafficking of women and children.

Yemen, the committee said, should ensure that the judiciary was free of any interference, in particular from the executive; should work towards establishing a national human rights institution; and review its laws in order to ensure full equality between men and women in matters of personal status.

The state should also “increase its efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation””