Yemen: Pillay condemns renewed escalation of violence in Taiz, urges protection of unarmed civilians

GENEVA (6 December 2011) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday deplored the killing of unarmed civilians by shooting and shelling in Yemen since last week, in a renewed escalation of violence despite pledges by the Government to the contrary.

“Unarmed civilians, including very young children, have been shot and left dead or with serious injuries,” Pillay said. “It is appalling and extremely disappointing that despite the successive deals and ceasefires, Government security forces continue to use live ammunition against unarmed protestors.”

Since Thursday last week, at least three children have been killed by security forces. Pillay also called on armed anti-government groups to exercise restraint.

“Violence is certainly not the way to resolve the current difficulties Yemen is facing, as clearly demonstrated by the events of the past year,” Pillay said.

“The Government must immediately ensure that lethal force and heavy weapons are not used against peaceful demonstrators. Human rights violations in Taiz must be independently investigated, the results of the investigation must be made public, and those responsible must be brought to justice without delay.”

The High Commissioner also stressed the Government’s obligation to ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of Yemenis are protected, noting that the right to education and the right to health have been seriously and increasingly curtailed over the past 10 months.

Pillay has called on the Government to grant immediate access to her staff to enable independent assessment of the human rights situation on the ground. She reiterated the willingness of the UN Human Rights Office to help the country move forward on a firm human rights foundation.

ENDS

Learn more about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HighCommissioner.aspx

UN Human Rights Country Page on Yemen: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/YEIndex.aspx

For more information or interviews, please contact press officers: Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 or rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 or xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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