Yemen Butcher of Human Rights Specially Trained by Great Britain; CAMPAIGNERS' CLAIM ON INVESTIGATIONS CHIEF; War Crimes Unit Accused of Whitewash

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), January 22, 2017 | Go to article overview

Yemen Butcher of Human Rights Specially Trained by Great Britain; CAMPAIGNERS' CLAIM ON INVESTIGATIONS CHIEF; War Crimes Unit Accused of Whitewash


Byline: Billy Briggs

A controversial Saudi war crimes investigations unit led by a man accused of torture was given specialist training by the UK Government.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed the Ministry of Defence delivered training sessions to Saudi Arabia's Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT).

JIAT investigate alleged war crimes in Yemen but have been accused of whitewashing incidents and of failing to get facts right.

Their legal adviser and spokesman is a controversial military figure, Lieutenant General Mansour al-Mansour, from Bahrain.

Known as "the Butcher", al-Mansour was branded a "serial violator of human rights" for his role as a military judge in Bahrain following pro-democracy protests.

During heavily criticised trials, he prosecuted hundreds of pro-democracy protesters including academics, writers and journalists, often handing down life imprisonment sentences.

Many protesters claimed they were tortured in custody to make confessions but that al-Mansour ignored their allegations.

International observers were often barred from courtrooms, leading to criticism from the UN and human rights groups.

JIAT have been at the centre of controversy over their investigations in Yemen after regularly clearing the Saudi-led coalition of any wrongdoing in the face of compelling evidence.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: "With Mansour, the UK has trained a serial violator of human rights to investigate violations of humanitarian law."

He added: "The UK must end its support of whitewashing mechanisms in the Gulf."

In August, al-Mansour presented the findings of eight JIAT investigations, which largely absolved the Saudi-led coalition of responsibility for civilian deaths.

But Amnesty International raised concerns over the investigations and have written to al-Mansour.

The human rights group said they had documented at least 34 coalition air strikes in Yemen since March 2015 that appear to have violated international humanitarian law.

Amnesty said: "They have included indiscriminate attacks leading to civilian deaths and injuries, and attacks that appear to have deliberately targeted civilians and civilian objects such as hospitals, schools, markets and mosques.

"Human Rights Watch, Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, one of Yemen's leading human rights organisations, and the UN have documented dozens more apparently unlawful coalition air strikes. …

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