Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh could receive amnesty “in all government, civil and military departments,” according to a deal proposed by the current government. Saleh’s presidency has been a point of contention for Yemeni citizens, who have sought to have Saleh removed and tried for his crimes.
President Saleh signed a deal in Nov. to step down from power and allow Vice President Abdu Rabu Hadi to take power. He is supposed to cede power on Feb. 21, 2012.
The proposal for amnesty will apply to “all acts committed before it is issued.” But several people decry the proposal and want to see Saleh tried for his crimes. United Nations Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay stated, “International law and the U.N. policy are clear on this matter: amnesties are not permissible if they prevent the prosecution of individuals who may be criminally responsible for international crimes including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.”
She added, “Based on information we have gathered, there is reason to believe that some of these crimes were committed in Yemen during the period for which amnesty is under consideration.” Saleh has not taken responsibility for the hundreds of deaths that occurred in the past year.
Reports show that anti-government protests began one year ago and called for Saleh to resign and allow new government to be elected. Saleh, in turn, gave a speech saying, “Our regime is not a tyrannical and dictatorial one-man regime or a one-party regime. There is an opposition facing a ruling part which holds the majority, and, naturally, the opposition is asking for diversity and partnership.”
He added, “There are no prisoners of conscience. We believe in democracy, freedom of expression, and voicing counter-opinions. We have exerted efforts in this regard by reaching out to all sides…Yemen is heading towards reconciliation and will turn its back to the past. All the past will be ignored and Yemen will be heading towards security, stability, and unity. This is our ambition and wish, provided that all sides cooperate with us.”
The White House has been in talks with Vice President Hadi, urging him to make February’s transition smooth and peaceful. Elections will be held in Yemen next month, after Saleh steps down.