US ‘must review abuses’ of UAE forces in Yemen: Rights groups

A coalition of rights groups has issued a joint letter to key US agencies calling for a review of allegations of abuse by US-allied UAE forces in Yemen.

A coalition of rights groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), has issued a joint letter to the US Department of Defence, FBI and CIA calling for a review of allegations of abuse by US-allied UAE forces in Yemen.

In June, an Associated Press investigation revealed that the United States was interrogating hundreds of men who were tortured by UAE prison guards in the secret sites.

Senior US military personnel confirmed their involvement, but denied any knowledge of human rights abuses.

Interrogating the victims of torture is illegal under international humanitarian law, as it is seen as complicity.

At least eighteen separate secret prisons were found to be in operation across south Yemen, all either run or supported by the UAE, with the US allegedly providing coalition forces with a list of most-wanted men to detain.

Family members of those detained said that some prisoners were transferred from UAE or Yemeni custody to UAE-run military bases in Eritrea.

US agencies must make public to the “fullest extent possible” any reviews into “allegations that US-allied forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and UAE-backed Yemeni forces have been responsible for serious abuses in Yemen”, the letter issued on 2 August said.

The joint appeal was co-signed by Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, and others.

Read more: UAE frustrates US by thwarting its peace efforts in Yemen, Libya: report

US Defence Secretary James Mattis responded to a letter sent by the Committee on Armed Services requesting a review of the allegations, but the response was not publicly disclosed.

“The United States doubtless recognizes that continued cooperation with forces engaged in serious abuses places US personnel at risk of being complicit in violations of international human rights and humanitarian law” the rights groups said.