U.K. and U.S. Asked to Investigate UAE 'War Crimes' in Yemen

The counter-terrorism command of London's Metropolitan police has a war crimes unit tasked with investigating alleged war crimes and torture

Members of UAE-backed southern Yemeni separatist forces stand atop a tank during clashes with government forces in Aden, Yemen August 10, 2019
REUTERS/Fawaz Salman

A British law firm filed requests on Tuesday with the authorities in Britain, the United States and Turkey to arrest senior officials from the United Arab Emirates on suspicion of carrying out war crimes and torture in Yemen.

The complaints were filed by law firm Stoke White under the 'universal jurisdiction' principle that countries are obliged to investigate breaches of the Geneva Convention for war crimes wherever they may have been carried out.

The firm filed the complaints to Britain's Metropolitan police and the U.S. and Turkish justice ministries on behalf of Abdullah Suliman Abdullah Daubalah, a journalist, and Salah Muslem Salem, whose brother was killed in Yemen.

Lawyers for the men said in the complaint that the UAE and its "mercenaries" were responsible for torture and war crimes against civilians in Yemen in 2015 and 2019. It named senior UAE political and military figures as suspects.

A spokeswoman for the UAE declined immediate comment, as did a spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police. There was no immediate reply to emails to the U.S. Justice Department and the Turkish embassy in London.

"The suspects reside in the UAE and the United States, and are not resident in the UK or Turkey," said Hakan Camuz, head of international law at Stoke White. "However, they travel to the UK regularly."

"It is requested that the police monitor their entry into the mentioned countries," Camuz said.

The UAE is a leading partner in a Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to restore ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government after it was toppled by the Houthi movement in late 2014. In July the UAE said it was withdrawing its troops from Yemen but remained part of the coalition.

The counter-terrorism command of London's Metropolitan police has a war crimes unit tasked with investigating alleged war crimes and torture.

Britain has prosecuted foreigners for war crimes committed in other countries twice this century, under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Afghan national Faryadi Zardad was jailed for 20 years in 2005 for torture and hostage-taking. In 2016, a Nepalese colonel, Kumar Lama, was acquitted of torture charges in a trial at London's Old Bailey criminal court.