Yemen: Yemen: UNHRC side event calls for accountability and an end to impunity to protect rights defenders


On 19 September, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) organised a side event with partners on “Accountability, ending impunity, and protection of human rights defenders in Yemen” at the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Speakers were Radhia Al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights, Dr. Annalisa Ciampi, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Michel Forst, UN Special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and Safa Al-Ahmad, Award-winning Saudi journalist and filmmaker.

Khalid Ibrahim, GCHR Executive Director, moderated the event, the aim of which he said was to “explore steps the international community can take to support accountability for human rights violations committed during the ongoing conflict in Yemen, including through supporting the work of human rights defenders, journalists, and online activists.”

Both UN Special Rapporteurs Ciampi and Forst called on human rights defenders in Yemen to communicate with them about massive violations, so that their documentation could be used in any future investigation into crimes committed by all sides in Yemen.

Also both Special Rapporteurs expressed their readiness to join over 100 NGOs who recently signed a joint letter calling for an international independent inquiry in Yemen. (See

Al-Mutawakel talked about the work of Mwatana, which has put great efforts to documenting the many violations committed by all sides of the conflict in Yemen. She also said that “setting up an international inquiry is only the first step in a long way to get peace and justice in Yemen.”

Al-Ahmad talked about the difficulties she has faced in her work, including how hard it was to complete her four documentary films in Yemen and she stressed the need to know the context first, as “the situation is very complicated in the country.”

The meeting concluded with a round of questions and answers.

The event was co-sponsored by GCHR, Mwatana, International Media Support (IMS), CIVICUS, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), FIDH, Index on Censorship, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Minority Rights Group International, PEN International, and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

At the event, GCHR distributed a report calling for an independent international inquiry in Yemen. Download the report at