The ousted Yemeni government, which is struggling to retake control of the country with the help of a Saudi-led military intervention, says it will investigate claims that its key ally, the UAE, is running a network of secret prisons that torture inmates.
The government of president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was overthrown by Houthi rebels in 2015 and turned to Saudi Arabia for military help to quash them. The two-year war for power in Yemen has taken a great humanitarian toll on the country, which remains under a Saudi blockade. The United Arab Emirates are part of the Saudi-led coalition propping Hadi and training fighters to support him on the ground.
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According to an AP report, the EUA has established a network of clandestine prisons to detain and interrogate people suspected of having links with the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda, which seized the opportunity to gain more influence in the country amid the civil war. The prisons, which are said to be out of the Hadi government’s control, were accused of abusing and torturing inmates.
Similar allegations were voiced last week by Human Rights Watch, which said it had documented the cases of 49 people, including four children, who reported being arbitrary detained in an area taken from the terrorist group by forces supporting Hadi’s government.
Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr said he had set up a six-member committee headed by the justice minister to investigate “human rights allegations in liberated areas.”
“The committee will start work from today and send its report to the prime minister within 15 days,” the order dated June 22 said, as cited by Reuters.
The UAE has denied running any secret prisons in Yemen. On Friday, its foreign ministry called the accusations “an attempt to sully the reputation of the alliance that had intervened to save the Yemeni people.”
“This issue is in the hands of the legitimate Yemeni authorities, while the coalition forces provide the necessary training for Yemeni cadres in line with the best legal practices,” the ministry said in a statement.