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Rules on law enforcement must be upheld

22 July 2005

Yemen: International rules on law enforcement must be upheld

Amnesty International is concerned at reports that dozens of people have been killed during violent protests over the last two days. Scores of protesters, including children, are said to have been arrested and may be at risk of torture.

The organization appeals to the government of Yemen to ensure that international standards on law enforcement and the use of force are strictly observed.

This appeal comes following violent protests that have taken place in different cities in Yemen, including Sana'a, Aden and Houdeida, against a recent government decision to increase the price of fuel. People reportedly took to the streets in Sana'a in a peaceful protest that rapidly escalated into violent clashes which resulted in a number of deaths including some members of the security forces. Civilian deaths are said to include children.

Amnesty International urges the government of Yemen to instruct all members of its security forces to abide by international standards for the use of force, particularly the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, and the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials. Law enforcement officials must be instructed to use firearms only as a last resort, in self defence or the defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, when less extreme means are insufficient.

All cases of death and all complaints of excessive use of force by officials should be investigated promptly, thoroughly and impartially. All those suspected of ordering or committing human rights violations should be prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness.

The government must also ensure that those arrested are protected from torture and ill-treatment. Anyone suspected of committing an internationally recognizable criminal offence must be allowed prompt access to lawyers and to a judge, and be given a prompt and fair trial in accordance with international standards. All other detainees should be released

Article 37 (b) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Yemen is a state party, provides that "The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time", whilst Article 37 (c) provides that "every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child's best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances".


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