The Saudi Arabia-led coalition carrying out attacks against the Houthis in Yemen has failed to investigate its apparently unlawful airstrikes that have killed hundreds of civilians, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued today. The United States is also obligated to investigate attacks in which it played a role that allegedly violated the laws of war.
The 73-page report, “‘What Military Target Was in My Brother’s House?’: Unlawful Coalition Airstrikes in Yemen,” examines in detail 10 apparently unlawful coalition airstrikes that killed at least 309 civilians and wounded more than 414 between April and August 2015. According to the United Nations, most of the 2,600 civilian deaths since the coalition began its military campaign against the Houthis in late March have been from coalition airstrikes. Human Rights Watch is unaware of any investigations by Saudi Arabia, other coalition members, or the US into these or other allegedly unlawful strikes, or of any compensation for victims or their families.
“The coalition’s unwillingness to conduct even a single investigation of numerous potentially unlawful airstrikes is appalling,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “While the coalition may have sophisticated weaponry and US support, its commitment to the laws of war is rudimentary at best.”
Human Rights Watch conducted field research in the governorates of Ibb, Amran, Hajja, Hodaida, Taizz, and the capital, Sanaa, and spoke to victims, witnesses, and medical staff. Airstrikes hit homes, markets, a factory, and a civilian prison, though in all of these cases, Human Rights Watch either found no evident military target or found that the attack failed to distinguish civilians from military objectives. Human Rights Watch compiled the names of 309 people – 199 men, 43 women, and 67 children – killed in the attacks, all believed to be civilians. Saudi officials have not responded to repeated Human Right Watch requests for information about the 10 airstrikes.