Hilary Benn – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Hilary Benn on 2016-01-07.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 4 January 2016 to Question 15523, what assessment he has made of whether incidents of alleged violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen have been investigated fully by each party involved in that conflict.

Mr Philip Hammond

The UK’s support for military action is contingent on adherence to International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The Ministry of Defence monitors alleged IHL violations, using available information, which in turn informs our overall assessment of IHL compliance in Yemen. We consider a range of information from government sources, foreign governments, the media and international non-governmental organisations. We are also offering advice and training to Saudi Arabia to demonstrate best practice and to help ensure continued compliance with IHL. We are aware of reports on alleged violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) in Yemen by the Coalition and take these very seriously. We are also concerned by reports of alleged IHL violations by Houthi-Saleh and pro-government forces and again take these very seriously. The UK government has regularly raised with the Saudi Government the need to comply with IHL in Yemen and we continue to engage with them on this. I raised the issue of compliance with IHL during my October visit to Saudi Arabia. We have also raised our concerns with the Houthis on the importance of compliance with IHL. It is important that open and transparent investigations are conducted into all incidents where it is alleged that IHL has been breached. We welcome the public announcement by Saudi Arabia to establish a fact finding committee into the alleged airstrike on MSF mobile clinic in Taiz on 2 December.