Nobel peace laureate calls for ICC Yemen probe

AP News
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Posted: Nov 28, 2011 11:07 AM
Nobel peace laureate calls for ICC Yemen probe

Nobel peace laureate Tawakkul Karman urged the International Criminal Court prosecutor Monday to launch an investigation into the violent crackdown on dissent in Yemen by the country's former president.

But Karman also lamented that her request stands little chance of success since Yemen is not a member of the court and she called for a stronger mechanism for bringing to account dictators who turn on their own people to cling to power.

Because Yemen has not signed the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, the only way the prosecutor could launch an investigation is if the United Nations Security Council tells him to.

"This is unfair," Karman said on the steps of the court's headquarters. "They have to find a new way to bring everyone who is killing his people to here, to this building."

Karman visited the court to present Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo with a file on crimes she said were committed by the regime of Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh stepped down last week in a deal that promised him immunity from prosecution, but Karman said she was at the court "to tell them, 'Don't allow any one to give Saleh and his regime any immunity.'"

Karman won the Nobel Peace Prize this year for her role in the protest movement that forced Saleh's ouster.

"I promised the people in Yemen ... that after they announced I won the Nobel Peace Prize that the first job I will do is taking the file of crimes of Ali Saleh to the ICC," she said on the steps of the court's headquarters. "I am here to tell the ICC they have to try Ali Saleh and all his regime when they kill people."

Saleh stubbornly clung to power despite nearly 10 months of huge street protests in which hundreds of people were killed by his security forces. At one point, Saleh's palace mosque was bombed and he was treated in Saudi Arabia for severe burns.

Saleh signed the U.S.-backed power-transfer deal, brokered by neighboring countries, on Wednesday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. It officially transferred power to his vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

But many in the country doubt the deal marked the end of Saleh's political life, and tens of thousands of protesters in Yemen, who have distanced themselves from the formal opposition movement, rejected the immunity clause, saying Saleh should face justice for allegations of corruption by his regime as well as the recent bloodshed as his forces try to put down the uprising against his 33-year rule.