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Saudi Arabia 'threatens countries' that back UN probe into Yemen civilian deaths

Yemen has seen huge damage from air strikes [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 27 September, 2017

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Saudi Arabia has reportedly threatened economic retaliation on countries that vote in favour of a UN probe into Yemen war deaths.

Saudi Arabia has threatened economic retaliation against countries that back a UN resolution setting up an international probe into war violations in Yemen, AFP reported on Tuesday.

A letter viewed by the news agency on Tuesday comes as UN members consider a Dutch/Canadian draft, which calls for an investigation - known as a Commission of Inquiry - into war deaths in the Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab military coalition backing the Yemeni government against rebels, but airstrikes have led to many civilian deaths.

Riyadh is highly sensitive of criticism about the way it handles the war.

"Adopting The Netherlands/Canadian draft resolution in the Human Rights Council may negatively affect the bilateral political economic relations with Saudi Arabia", a letter circulated by the kingdom and seen by AFP said.

Saudi Arabia "will not accept" the Dutch/Canadian draft, it added, and called for more support to the Yemeni domestic probe, which the UN says lacks credibility.  

The Geneva director for Human Rights Watch, who has also seen the document sent to multiple countries, described the threat as "disgraceful".

"It is outrageous that Saudi Arabia is seeking to use threats of economic and political sanctions to bully states into not supporting the kind of international investigation that could put an end to the abuses," Fisher told AFP

"The (Arab) coalition forces have bombed hospitals, they have bombed market places, homes, funeral parlours and it is time for the international community to say enough is enough."

United Nations rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein has repeatedly lobbied the Human Rights Council to create an independent investigation of alleged atrocities in Yemen.

A Saudi-led coalition entered the Yemen war against Houthi rebels in March 2015. 

Civilian targets like markets and hospitals have also been hit during the war, but Saudi Arabia has so far succeeded in blocking an international probe.

The Human Rights Council, which concludes its ongoing session on Friday, is again split over a path forward. 

At least 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's war, the vast majority are believed to be civilians.

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