November 6th congressman Ted Lieu, a former air force lawyer, says members of US armed services could be prosecuted for providing support for Saudi-led coalition.
Members of the US armed services could be prosecuted for war crimes for providing midair refueling and other military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, the Obama administration has been warned, according to the guardian.
Nearly 4,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed since the conflict began in earnest in March 2015.
In a letter to secretary of state John Kerry and defence secretary Ash Carter, US congressman Ted Lieu, a former air force lawyer, said the administration’s insistence that it is not taking part in target selection for coalition sorties – many of which have hit hospitals and schools – does not excuse the US from legal responsibility.
“I find it deeply troubling that the US apparently has no advanced knowledge of what targets will be struck by jets that are refueled by US personnel with US tankers,” Lieu said in his letter, “the US would appear to be violating LOAC [laws of armed conflict] and international standards by engaging in such direct military operations if US personnel are not aware if targets are civilian or military, if the loss of life and property are disproportional, or if the operation is even militarily necessary.”
Lieu, who lectured in the laws of war during his service as an air force judge advocate general (Jag), said: “US personnel are now at legal risk of being investigated and potentially prosecuted for committing war crimes. Under international law, a person can be found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes.”
The report added that he also said the absence of a tribunal should not mean the laws of armed conflict should be ignored.
“That’s an awful dangerous game to play,” Lieu told the Guardian. “That we’re going to violate the laws of war because no one is going to prosecute us.” He said a future administration might take a different view of the US involvement in Yemen.
A legal adviser for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Tristan Ferraro, has argued that refueling represents one of the elements of support that would make the supporting nation a party to a conflict.
On Monday, the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, called for an end to Saudi-led airstrikes after a string of incidents with high civilian casualties.