Senior government leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been accused of involvement in war crimes in Yemen, according to human rights lawyers who have filed a complaint with British police.
On Wednesday, the Guernica 37 legal team in London presented their case to the Metropolitan Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in the city.
22 high-ranking Saudi and Emirati political and military leaders are claimed to have been complicit in crimes against humanity, according to Toby Cadman, the lawyer spearheading the lawsuit.
Should the people reach the UK, a key political ally of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, the dossier asks for them to be detained immediately.
The list of names has not been made public.
“We are talking about the most heinous crimes and we don’t believe there is any immunity from them,” Cadman further said.
Guernica 37 is concentrating on three events: a 2018 air assault on a school bus in northern Yemen that killed at least 26 children, and a 2016 aerial bombing of a funeral in Sanaa that killed 140 people.
The other alleges that Colombian mercenaries under the direction of a US private military organization employed by the UAE tortured and murdered people in Aden, a strategically vital port city in southern Yemen.
The organization used testimonies from survivors and families of the three occurrences as proof. The relatives of those slain in the incidents have also testified in their file.
To push their case forward, Cadman said the team was relying on universal jurisdiction under UK law. The concept guarantees that those who commit certain crimes, including as war crimes and torture, can be tried in UK courts regardless of where their crimes occurred.
“Under UK law there is no requirement for the crimes to be committed on UK territory or there to be UK victims or UK defendants,” he said.