26 May 2013

(Geneva, 27 May, 2013) - The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is deeply disturbed by new reports of use of antipersonnel landmines by Yemeni government forces near the capital city, Saana.

The ICBL calls on Yemen to immediately investigate, and to identify and prosecute those responsible for substantial use of antipersonnel mines in 2011. ICBL member Human Rights Watch, a local human rights organization and an independent journalist with Foreign Policy magazine have provided details of the mine laying, based on on-the-ground investigations and eyewitness accounts. The testimonies describe mine laying by Republican Guard forces in 2011 around military camps they maintain in the Bani Jarmooz area near Sanaa.

Landmines in the area have caused civilian casualties, including children. The reports identify several types of mines, including PMN, PMD-6, and GYATA antipersonnel mines. They also indicate that Republican Guard forces have refused to allow government deminers into the area to conduct mine clearance. If confirmed, this represents a serious breach of Yemen’s obligations as a State Party to the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction (Mine Ban Treaty).“It is unconscionable that a state which has signed on to ban these indiscriminate weapons could allow use by government forces, ” said ICBL Director, Kasia Derlicka. “We fully expect Yemen to take these reports very seriously by immediately investigating all allegations and letting States Parties know without delay, the outcome of their investigations.

The ICBL also calls on other States Parties to express their concern and to demand that Yemen urgently investigate these allegations. “If these reports prove true, other States Parties need to loudly voice their condemnation,” added Derlicka.

Yemen was an initial signatory to the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) in Ottawa in 1997 and the treaty entered into force for Yemen on March 1, 1999. As a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty, Yemen has committed, like other States Parties, never to use antipersonnel mines under any circumstances, and to prevent and suppress any prohibited activities. In order to abide by its treaty obligations, Yemen must immediately investigate whether military or security forces under government control used antipersonnel mines and clarify the situation to other treaty members.

The use allegations are based on testimony from recent Human Rights Watch fact-finding missions to Yemen documenting several cases of victims of antipersonnel mines. In the most recent case documented, a 9-year-old boy from al-Khabsha village stepped on a landmine while tending his family’s sheep on April 12, 2013, losing his left leg in the explosion. According to eyewitness accounts related to HRW, in September/early October 2011, soldiers in Republican Guard uniforms laid mines around al-Khabsha village.

These latest allegations follow documentation in the 2012 Landmine Monitor of possible antipersonnel mine use by Yemeni government forces in Sana’a, resulting in casualties in January and March 2012. A 10-year-old boy was among those injured.

Yemen has not responded to requests from the ICBL for a reaction to such allegations. Between January and July of 2012, there were believed to be 162 mine and/or explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties in Yemen, including 110 children, 42 civilian adults and 10 casualties among deminers. Yemen reported in 2002 completing destruction of its landmine stockpiles, and the country was slated to have finished clearance of emplaced mines as of 2015.

The new findings suggest that the previous declaration of stockpile destruction was incorrect or that Yemeni forces have since acquired a new supply of antipersonnel mines, in breach of the Mine Ban Treaty.Based on these findings, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines is calling on the Yemeni government to undertake the following actions:

  • Conduct an immediate investigation into the deployment of antipersonnel mines in the Bani Jarmooz area;
  • Immediately mark and cordon off the areas where antipersonnel mines and related munitions are deployed to reduce the risk of further casualties among the local population;
  • Immediately conduct mine clearance efforts to remove or destroy the munitions from the vicinity of the Republican Guard camps and any other areas in which antipersonnel mines have been deployed;
  • Identify and prosecute those responsible for deploying antipersonnel mines;
  • Provide assistance, and support to those killed or injured – and to their families - as a result of the deployment of mines in the Bani Jarmooz area and elsewhere in Yemen;
  • Publicly reaffirm Yemen’s commitment to enforcing all aspects of the Mine Ban Treaty, including the prohibition on the use of antipersonnel mines;
  • Disclose the source of the antipersonnel mines laid in the Bani Jarmooz area and when and how these were obtained;
  • Immediately collect and destroy any remaining stockpiles, as required by the treaty.

END Note to the Editor· An Arabic language copy of the press release is downloadable here.· HRW press release on recent findings of Yemen mine use, pending release, see http://www.hrw.org/home ·

Foreign Policy article “Revenge Landmines of the Arab Spring,” http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/05/24/revenge_landmines_of_the_arab_spring_yemen

The ICBL will join States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty from 27 to 30 May 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland for the Intersessional Standing Committees (ISC) of the Mine Ban Treaty. States are expected to condemn any new use of antipersonnel mines, to highlight the fact that the use of landmines is unacceptable under any circumstances, and to call for immediate investigation of these allegations.

International Campaign to Ban Landmine members including the Yemen Mine Awareness Association and ICBL Delegation Chair, Steve Goose from Human Rights Watch, will be present at the meeting and available for interviews.

For more information contact:Jared Bloch, Media & Communications Manager, Tel: +41 786 83 4407, Email: jared@icblcmc.org.

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