Mine Ban Policy
Last updated October 2013
Mine ban policy overview
Mine Ban Treaty status
National implementation measures
Legislation enacted 20 April 2005
For the period 31 March 2012–31 March 2013
Confirmed use of antipersonnel mines at Bani Jamooz north of Sana’a in 2011, possibly by government forces, requires investigation and action by the government; non-state armed groups (NSAGs) have used antipersonnel mines in various locations
The Republic of Yemen signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997 and ratified it on 1 September 1998. It entered into force on 1 March 1999. National implementation legislation was enacted on 20 April 2005.
Yemen submitted its 15th Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report in 2013, covering the period 31 March 2012 to 31 March 2013.
Yemen attended the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in December 2012, where it made a statement on mine clearance. Yemen participated in the intersessional Standing Committee meetings held in Geneva in May 2013, where it made statements on mine clearance and victim assistance. At both meetings Yemen responded to allegations of recent antipersonnel mine use (see section on Use below).
Yemen is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but it participated as an observer in the annual conference of CCW Amended Protocol II on landmines in November 2012.
Production, transfer, stockpile destruction, and retention
Yemen has stated that it has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines. It destroyed the last of its known stockpile of 74,000 to 78,000 antipersonnel mines in April 2002. An additional 30,000 mines were found in November 2006 and destroyed in December 2007. Possible use of antipersonnel mines by government forces in 2011 also raises questions about whether stocks still exist.
In 2013, Yemen again reported that it has retained 3,760 antipersonnel mines for training and research purposes. Yemen still has not reported on the intended purposes and actual uses of its retained mines as agreed by States Parties in 2004. Some of the types of mines used in 2011 are types that are being retained.
In 2013, credible information emerged of antipersonnel mine use at a location north of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, in late 2011, allegedly by the government’s Republican Guard force. The Monitor previously reported antipersonnel mine use, possibly by government forces, in Sana’a that resulted in casualties in January and March 2012. Additionally, NSAGs are using antipersonnel mines in other locations.
According to witness testimony collected by Human Rights Watch (HRW), evidence gathered by a local human rights organization, and evidence collected by an international journalist, antipersonnel mines were laid around the camps of the Republican Guards in Bani Jarmooz, north of Sana’a, in late 2011.
Local inhabitants and mine victims interviewed by HRW said that they first learned that their farmland was mined around September 2011, notably when Abdulhamid Wasel Ali Wasl, a 14-year-old boy from Bayt al-Auseri village, was killed as the vehicle he was travelling in hit an antivehicle mine on September 2.
According to a resident who became a mine victim in November 2011, in late September or early October 2011 he used binoculars to watch between 10 and 15 soldiers in Republican Guard uniforms lay antipersonnel mines in a nearby wadi, or river bed. HRW interviewed a medic from the district of Milhin who lost his leg in an incident on 30 November 2011 in an antipersonnel minefield outside the camp of the 63rd Brigade of the Republican Guard, which resulted in five casualties. The most recent victim interviewed by HRW was Fawaz Mohsin Saleh Husn, a nine-year-old boy from al-Khabsha village, who was injured by an antipersonnel mine at Bani Jamooz on 12 April 2013. In total, HRW estimates that the mines at Bani Jamooz caused at least 15 civilian casualties, including nine children, in the period from September 2011 to May 2013.
From their descriptions and drawings by local residents, HRW identified PMN antipersonnel mines used at Bani Jamooz, while photographs taken by a journalist indicate that other types of mines have also been found in the area, including a PMD-6 antipersonnel mine.
The mine casualties all occurred in the vicinity of military camps that the 63rd and 81st Brigades of the Republican Guard established at Bani Jarmooz around 26 July 2011 and which remained in place as of September 2013. There has been no other military activity in the area that could explain the presence of the mines. HRW did not observe any fencing or warning signs when it visited the site in April 2013.
In a May 2013 letter to Yemen’s Minister of Defense, HRW urged the government to conduct an immediate investigation into the use of antipersonnel mines at Bani Jarmooz to establish when, by whom, and under what authority the mines were laid and the extent of their deployment. It also called for the affected area to be marked, fenced, and cleared and for comprehensive assistance to be provided to the mine victims. The ICBL wrote to Yemen’s Minister of Foreign Affairs to express its concern and ask for investigations, including on where these mines may have come from.
During the session on compliance at the intersessional Standing Committee meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty in late May 2013, the ICBL said “it is clear that mines have been used” in Yemen, but “not clear whether government or rebel forces have been responsible.” It said that there are indicators that government forces “could be the culprits” and called for a thorough investigation.
Over the course of the week-long intersessional meetings, 15 states as well as Matjaz Kovacic, the Slovenian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva (in his role as the President of the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties) called for an investigation that would report back to States Parties; they also expressed concern at the casualties and urged rapid mine clearance.
On the final day of the intersessional meetings, Yemen’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ali Mohamed Saeed Majawar, responded to the allegations, stating, “We have contacted the relevant government bodies and Yemen Mission in Geneva. It was agreed that an official investigation will be conducted on the use of AP mines in the mentioned area, by whom and the guilty will be punished. YEMAC [the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center] will implement a level one survey to locate the mines and clear them to stop any further casualties.”
Since that time, the Yemeni government has not provided any information on the status of any investigation.
In September 2013, a government official informed the Monitor that the engineering corps of the Ministry of Defense—as opposed to YEMAC—will clear the minefield due to the location’s proximity to the capital. The representative acknowledged that the affected area at Bani Jamooz has not been cleared and said that the clearance effort “stops and starts…depending on the security situation.”
In a meeting with YEMAC in September 2013, the head of the organization told HRW that because the government is not ensuring the security of a demining assessment team to Bani Jarmooz, no steps have been taken to start the clearing process.
At some point since May 2011, antipersonnel mines were laid inside the building compound of the Ministry of Industry and Trade on Jomhorriya Street in the Hassaba neighborhood of Sana’a. This situation came to public attention after a child was injured by an antipersonnel mine at the site in March 2012. Deminers from the Army Engineering Corps were seen in a video recording obtained by HRW removing at least 25 antipersonnel mines from the compound on 7 March 2012, including one mine type not encountered before in Yemen, either in stock or laid.
Armed clashes, the so-called “Hassaba war,” between members of the al-Ahmar tribal militia and government forces began in the area in May 2011.
Guards from the government’s Central Security forces who were present at the site in March 2012 stated that men who identified themselves as members of the Republican Guard claimed responsibility for laying mines inside the compound (although the date was unspecified) during the process of transferring control of the compound to the Central Security forces. HRW does not have any further information to corroborate this latter claim. It cannot be conclusively determined which forces used the mines at the compound.
At the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties in December 2012, Yemen denied that its army was using antipersonnel landmines and instead blamed NSAGs. Germany stated that it had raised the issue of reported landmine use in Sana’a in 2012 with the general staff of Yemen’s armed forces, who informed Germany that the area was being demined.
At the intersessional meetings in May 2013, Yemen stated that it had investigated the incident in Sana’a but did not find any landmines. It said that assistance has been provided to the child victim.
Use by non-state armed groups
In 2012, there were credible reports of use of antipersonnel mines by NSAGs in Sa’ada governorate and Abyan governorate. It is unclear if antipersonnel mines were still being used in 2013. In its 2013 Article 7 Report, Yemen stated that YEMAC could fulfill its mine action plans in Sa’ada and Abyan in 2012 because “the security situation became much better than 2011.”
Yemen’s 2013 Article 7 report states that “YEMAC face new challenge in Sada’a governorate after insurgences [sic] war. New kinds of mines made manually by insurgences [sic] and planted in Sada’a, some of them demined by the insurgences [sic] and they missed others. …lot of mine accidents happened and many of people killed and injured.”
Since June 2004, the government of Yemen has been fighting rebel forces led by Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi in the mountainous northern Sada’a governorate, which has seen occasional reports and allegations of the use of antipersonnel mines by both sides. After a 2010 ceasefire opened access to the region, it became apparent that the Houthi rebel forces had used mostly, if not exclusively, so-called home-made antipersonnel mines, otherwise known as victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Haijjah governorate, which borders Sa’ada governorate and where Houthi rebels have been fighting local Sunni tribes backed by the government, has also suffered casualties from landmines. In March 2012, a local representative said that Houthi rebels had planted approximately 3,000 landmines in Kushar and Ahim in Hajjah governorate. In February 2013, a local involved in mine clearance efforts reportedly said, “The way in which the land mines were placed in Ahim is one of the biggest inhibiting factors to their cleanup. Because the weapons were placed unsystematically, they have even killed those accused of planting them.”
In September 2013, a representative of the district of Al-Asha bordering Sa’ada governorate told media that Houthi rebels were planting landmines “in the mountainous areas under their control.”
In its 2012 Article 7 report, Yemen listed Abyan governorate in the south of the country as newly mine-affected “because of the war that started between the Yemeni army and Al Qaeda groups.”
According to media reports in June 2012, the governor's office in Zinjibar (the capital of Abyan governorate) said that engineering teams have removed some landmines from around the city and the nearby city of Jaar. Government forces regained control of both cities in May 2012, a year after they were occupied by Ansar al-Sharia, an armed organization linked to al Qaeda. Photographs of weapons recovered by deminers from Ansar al-Sharia positions after the withdrawal, which HRW examined in October 2012, included antipersonnel mines, antivehicle mines, explosive booby-traps, and IEDs.
 Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, 30 March 2007. On 16 December 2004, the Yemeni parliament endorsed national implementation legislation; on 20 April 2005, Presidential Law No. 25 was issued to bring the legislation into force. The implementing legislation has not been listed in recent Article 7 reports. Instead, under national measures, Yemen has listed its ratification legislation, stating that, “The Parliament of Yemen issued, and the President signed law on 8\98 in June 1998. The law states that the Government of Yemen will enforce the ban from the day the law was issued.” Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 31 March 2012 to 31 March 2013), Form A.
 In its Article 7 reports submitted in 2001 and 2002, Yemen reported a stockpile of 78,000 mines, including 4,000 to be retained for training. Its reporting on the destruction of the mines has contained discrepancies, but appeared to total about 74,000. Yet its Article 7 reports have usually cited the figure of 78,000 destroyed. See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 522, and subsequent editions of Landmine Monitor.
 On 16 December 2007, Yemen destroyed an additional 30,000 POMZ-2 antipersonnel mines that were found in November 2006 in an old military warehouse undergoing transformation into a tourist site. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form G, 31 March 2008; and Form B, 30 March 2007.
 Yemen declared the following mines: 940 PPMISR-2, 940 PMD-6, 940 POMZ-2, and 940 PMN. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 31 March 2012 to 31 March 2013), Form D. It declared the same number (3,760) of retained mines in its Article 7 reports provided in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012. Yemen’s 2011 report declared a total of 4,000 antipersonnel mines retained for training and research purposes, including 240 additional mines (60 more of each type): 1,000 PPMISR-2, 1,000 PMD-6, 1,000 POMZ-2, and 1,000 PMN. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 30 March 2010 to 30 March 2011), Form D. Yemen has not provided any explanation for the increased number listed in the 2011 report.
 The retained mines were transferred from centralized military storage facilities in Sana’a and Aden to the Military Engineering Department Training Facility and Mine Detection Dogs Unit. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 30 March 2011 to 30 March 2012), Form D.
 Joe Sheffer, “Revenge Landmines of the Arab Spring,” Foreign Policy, 24 May 2013 HRW press release, “Yemen: Investigate, Respond to Landmine Use Reports,” 27 May 2013; and Yemen Rights Foundation, “A report issued by the Yemen Rights Foundation about landmines that were previously used by members of the Republican Guard stationed in the military bases al-Sama and al-Fareeja in the valleys and mountains of Bani Jarmouz, Sana’a province, in 2011,” 10 April 2013, www.al-tagheer.com/editor_images/تقرير صادر عن مؤسسة يمن حقوق.pdf Unless stated otherwise, all information in the Bani Jamooz section comes from these sources.
 According to 21-year-old Brahim Abdallah Hussain Hotrom from Milhin district in Sana’a, three people were walking near the camp when one was shot. The other two men called the local medical team to help and tried to take the injured man to a safe place. Those two men stepped on landmines. The medical team went in and all except one of the four medics stepped on landmines and were wounded. Hotrom said the mined area was about 1,200 meters from a Republican Guard checkpoint and about 800 meters from the 63rd Brigade.
 The victim was tending his family’s sheep on 12 April 2013 when one sheep ran into a mined area that he knew to be unsafe. He sought to retrieve the sheep but stepped on a mine, which exploded, threw him to the ground, and severed his left leg. His family said that some soldiers nearby witnessed the explosion but were apparently too fearful to enter the area to rescue the boy, and a local villager extricated him and took him to the nearest medical services for treatment.
 During a visit to Bani Jormooz in April 2013, an international journalist said “residents produced bags of mines recovered from the ground using rudimentary methods. They included four different types of anti-personnel mines, including large numbers of Hungarian manufactured GYATA-64 type mines, known to be among the most powerful anti-personnel devices ever manufactured. Locals also produced plastic East German PPM2 mines and two variations of Soviet wooden PMD-5 [sic] landmines — all were manufactured before the end of the Cold War.” Joe Sheffer, “Revenge Landmines of the Arab Spring,” Foreign Policy, 24 May 2013.
 ICBL letter to Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Abdallah al-Qirbi, 23 May 2013.
 Statement of the ICBL, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 7 December 2013.
 Afghanistan, Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Ireland, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
 Statement of Yemen, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 30 May 2013.
 Monitor meeting with Ahmed Ali Saeed An-Ansi, Ministry of Defense of Yemen, in Lusaka, 11 September 2013.
 HRW meeting with Ali al-Kadri, Director YEMAC, Sana’a, 8 September 2013.
 A 10-year-old boy named Osama was seriously injured when he stepped on an antipersonnel mine in a courtyard inside the compound on 4 March 2012. The boy’s right leg was amputated below the knee and he received injuries to his left leg and abdomen. The medical report obtained by HRW said the cause “had to be something that exploded from the bottom” and also identified the cause of the injuries as a “mine.”
 HRW obtained video footage of a demining operation conducted at the site on 7 March 2012, showing the removal of two types of antipersonnel mines, including East German PPM-2 blast mines. The PPM-2 mine is not reported to have been stockpiled by Yemen.
 Before the conflict, government employees used the ministry building daily. On 23 May 2011, al-Ahmar tribal militia entered the building around midday, causing employees working there to flee, according to local shopkeepers and residents. Al-Ahmar fighters occupied the building for approximately 10 days during fighting with government forces, several residents and merchants told HRW. Cadets of the Supreme Military College subsequently occupied the premises. Around 16 October 2011, neighborhood residents said, troops from the Republican Guard assumed control of the recaptured building. In January 2012, Central Security officers began guarding the building compound, they told HRW. HRW interviews with six uniformed guards from the Central Security forces at the Ministry of Industry and Trade compound and interviews with local shop owners and residents, Jomhorriya Street, Hassaba neighborhood, Sana’a, 24–25 March 2012.
 Statement of Yemen, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 27 May 2013.
 In a February 2010 United States (US) diplomatic cable made public in August 2011, a senior Yemeni government representative expressed concern that the Houthi rebels were retaining mines after they were cleared, rather than turning the devices over to the army for destruction. “Yemen: Ceasefire Implementation Creeps in Sa’ada,” US Department of State cable 10SANAA382 dated 23 February 2010, released by Wikileaks on 30 August 2011.
 A representative of the Houthi rebels told media that landmines were used by the Houthi, but described the number of mines reported as “exaggerated.” Hadi Wardan, a member of the local authority for Sharis in Hajjah, cited in: “Landmines threaten lives of citizens in Hajja,” Yemen Times, 26 March 2012.
 Rammah Al-Jubari, “Wanting to go home but threatened by landmines, Ahim area IDPs caught in limbo,” Yemen Times, 7 February 2013.
 The Monitor identified Soviet-made POMZ-2 and PMN antipersonnel mines among unexploded ordnance and abandoned explosive ordnance recovered in Abyan in an Agence France-Presse photograph taken in Abyan in June 2012. See, “Mines and weapons are laid on the ground as a de-mining operation gets underway in the southern province of Abyan,” Agence France-Presse, 20 June 2012. PMN antipersonnel mines were also identified in a Yemeni Ministry of Defense photograph published by Reuters showing explosive weapons seized “from positions of Al-Qaeda militants in Abyan” in June 2012. See, “Yemen says Islamists retreat from southern town,” Reuters, 17 June 2012. In a personal blog entry on mine clearance in Abyan, a Yemen Observer journalist reported in July 2012 that YEMAC had found and destroyed 12 antipersonnel mines, as well as 22 antivehicle mines, and 347 booby-traps. See, Majid al-Kibsi, “Landmines threaten IDPs return to Abyan,” 27 July 2012.