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Yemen war victims seek ICC probe into Saudi-led coalition's war crimes

Yemeni children hold a demonstration in capital Sana’a to slam the UN for its failure to include Saudi-led invaders in its “list of shame,” on June 22, 2021. (Photo by AP)

A legal panel comprised of London-based lawyers that represent victims of Yemen's years-long conflict has called for an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into war crimes perpetrated by the Saudi-led coalition in the impoverished Arab country.

In a statement on Monday, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers said it had submitted evidence to the ICC to prove the coalition’s war crimes and crimes against humanity since the start of the aggression on Yemen.

The lawyers, who made the submission on behalf of hundreds of survivors and relatives of those killed, called for the investigation of three incidents, according to a statement.

The incidents include a 2016 Saudi-led coalition airstrike that killed 140 people at a funeral in the capital Sana’a and a 2018 airstrike on a school bus in northern Yemen that claimed the lives of at least 40 children.

Guernica 37 said the Saudi-led coalition admitted at the time that "mistakes" were made, saying that it would put on trial military personnel suspected of being behind strikes on civilians, including the school bus strike.

"At the time of the attack the coalition claimed they would investigate and hold the perpetrators to account. Of course, they did no such thing," Almudena Bernabeu, co-founder of Guernica 37, said in the statement.

Neither Yemen nor Saudi Arabia are parties to the ICC's founding Rome Statute, and of the countries making up the coalition, only Jordan has ratified the statute.

The Rome Statute, which went into effect in July 2002, outlines the four grave international crimes, namely crimes of aggression, war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The statute forms one of the foundations of The Hague-based International Criminal Court.

Yemen has been the target of a military campaign led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the US since early 2015. The war — which has unsuccessfully sought to reinstall a former Riyadh-allied government in Sana’a — has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead and displaced millions more.

The campaign has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and brought about the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” in the country, according to the UN.

Defending their country against the Saudi-led aggression, Yemeni armed forces and allied Popular Committees have, however, gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.

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