Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic Joins NGO Coalition Urging the United Nations Security Council to Stand with Yemeni Human Rights Advocates and Civil Society Leaders
Human rights organizations express alarm at recent efforts by the Government of Yemen to intimidate Yemeni civil society advocates and urge Security Council Ambassadors to take action in support of Yemeni civil society
May 10, 2017, NEW YORK – The Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic, together with a coalition of human rights groups, is urging the Ambassadors on the United Nations Security Council to take immediate action to support Yemeni civil society, in the face of recent attempts by the Government of Yemen to silence and intimidate renowned Yemeni human rights advocates.
The joint letter is a response to recent efforts by the Government of Yemen, through its Embassy in Washington, D.C, to discredit the work of Yemeni human rights advocates to the media and Congressional staffers.
“The Ambassadors on the Security Council should be alarmed by the Government of Yemen’s efforts to smear the work of independent advocates,” said Professor Sarah Knuckey, the Director of the Human Rights Clinic and Faculty Co-Director of the Human Rights Institute. “Without the work of Yemeni civil society organizations, many of the human rights effects of the conflict in Yemen would go undocumented, making it substantially harder for the international community to understand and respond to one of the most under-reported armed conflicts in the world today.”
The NGO letter highlights the essential work of the Yemeni human rights organization, Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, which has been wrongfully accused by the Government of Yemen for being aligned with “Iran-backed Houthi rebels.” Mwatana is a pre-eminent Yemeni civil society organization that is globally recognized for providing independent and comprehensive human rights investigations, without political bias, about violations carried out by all parties to the current Yemen conflict. The Yemeni government’s unfounded accusations are the latest in a series of attacks on Ms. Almutawakel and her colleagues by different parties to the conflict. Previously, they have been beaten, harassed, and arbitrarily detained by the Houthis a result of their work.
In April 2017, Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute awarded Mrs. Almutawakel and her colleague and Mwatana co-founder Abdulrasheed Alfaqih the “Global Advocate Award,” and they were invited to be Practitioners-In-Residence at Columbia Law School. The unique program is designed for human rights practitioners seeking to engage in research, writing, and scholarly discussion and exchange connected to their human rights practice.
The Human Rights Clinic is an intensive year long course directed by Sarah Knuckey, the Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein Clinical Associate Professor of Human Rights and the faculty co-director of the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School, as well as by Senior Clinical Teaching Fellow Benjamin Hoffman. The Clinic brings together human rights work, student education, critical reflection, and scholarly research. Students are trained to be strategic human rights advocates, while pursuing social justice in partnership with civil society and communities, and advancing human rights methodologies and scholarship. For more information, visit http://web.law.columbia.edu/clinics/human-rights-clinic.