Yemen: Saleh Gets Impunity After All

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

Five times after delaying discussion on a controversial immunity law, parliament endorsed the law granting outgoing Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh total immunity from legal and judicial prosecution yesterday. The law grants Saleh complete immunity for any crimes committed during his rule, including the killing of protesters since the beginning of the popular uprising against his regime in February.

The law prior to it's amended version had also given complete immunity to everyone who served Saleh's governments throughout his rule, yet it was changed on Thursday to grant them immunity only on “politically motivated” criminal acts, thus not covering corruption charges.

Veteran activist @alguneid tweeted:

#Breaking by phone from inside parliament #Sanaa Atmosphere is so emotional. Pro and anti- Saleh MPs are so happy to get rid of Saleh #Yemen

@alguneid added:

#Breaking by phone from inside parliament #Sanaa many MPs, cried, includin PM. It's over. Saleh finished,legally& constitutionally. #Yemen

Yemeni blogger @Afrahnasser tweeted:

#Yemen's PM crying at the parliament ; requesting to grant immunity for #Saleh

The video of the PM crying was posted by KareemoS and sparked different reactions:

Journalist and eyewitness @mohammedalqadhi tweeted his reaction:

I have felt i wanted to cry loudly as I saw the prime minister weeping at the parliament in appeal to take Yemen off its dilemma!

@ichamza sarcastically tweeted:

u need a bill to pass in this political scene? no need for reason or logic or any of this shit! just cry in front of Parliament! #Yemen #Waa

Yemeni Journalist and Winner of International Press Freedom Award 2011 @KhaledHammadi tweeted:

#Yemen PM #Basundowa crys in parliament asking MPs to pass immunity law draft as a tool to avoid crisis

He added:

@KhalidHammadi: #Yemen parliament approves nomination of vice-president Abdu Raboo Hadi as sole presidential candidate 4 all parties at next Feb21 election

Freelance journalist @ionacraig, who is currently in Yemen, added:

Parliament agreed today to pass amended immunity law. Just needs final sign off from VP Hadi to become law. #Yemen

She pointed the crimes that Saleh is not immune from:

@ionacraig: Immunity does NOT include UN classified: Crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes, gross violations of human rights & sexual violence.

Journalist Jane Novak criticized the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plan in her blog Armies of Liberation :

Its astounding that the GCC plan legitimizes the parliament, whose terms expired in 2009, to grant immunity to Saleh but doesn’t require those who have immunity to retire. The uncontested election is a waste of time and money as the international community undermined the concept of Yemenis right to self determination by ignoring their demands entirely. Its a veneer of democracy on a totally undemocratic process. The GCC plan also empowers the existing political parties and elites to a level beyond their credibility with the public.

I also tweeted my disappointment:

@NoonArabia: How can a new era for #Yemen start with impunity?! I and many Yemenis are disappointed, so are the families of the martyrs.

@Amal_Nasser replied:

@NoonArabia new era for saleh but not for yemen. the country is not through with the misery #Saleh caused !

And @HatemRushdi replied referring to the case of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak:

Is it better or worse than the mockery of a trial we are having here? I am not too sure, maybe best to move on, maybe not

@abdullaht pragmatically tweeted:

Today Yemeni parliament approved complete immunity law for Saleh, a dark day in history of justice, but time to move on and fix country!

And as @SummerNasser wisely tweeted:

Saleh has left w/out punishment, but I'm not worried at all- b/c he's going to get his punishment from God. Whether on this earth or after.

Malcom X said “I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against.”

We have witnessed the fate of the Arab Spring despots who have fallen. Tunisia's Zine Al Abedeen Ben Ali made a swift escape to Saudi Arabia, Libyan Muammar Gaddafi faced a despicable death, Mubarak is facing a farce of a trial and Saleh today got the best deal ever given to a dictator with blood on his hands – impunity.

Yemenis have been marching in millions for months rejecting the immunity law, offered to Saleh and his regime by the GCC deal, which was eventually passed by parliament with disregard to international law and popular demand. The passing of this law was undoubtedly a black day for justice which brought an end to Saleh's 33 years of rule, however a new page whether we agree or disagree of how it was written, has been turned in Yemen's history.

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

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