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In post-revolutionary Yemen, a republic where it is legal to
have arranged marriages to 9-year-old girls who have reached puberty, and where
justice frequently turns a blind eye on torture, it is unsurprising that
treatment of hospital patients has come under criticism by human rights organizations
and other NGOs.
According to Human
Rights Watch, Yemeni government forces raid hospitals to apprehend Islamic
militants and violent criminals. Because both the patients and the government
forces are armed, gun fights ensue with additional wounded and loss of life. Ironically,
at least those injured in those gun battles are in the best place to be if they
need wound care.
Medical staff and medical facility security who interfere
with apprehensions risk beatings or death. Under these hostile circumstances, Doctors
Without Borders has shut down one Aden hospital.
For human rights to be protected and the rule of law to be
restored, the following steps should be taken by the Yemeni government with
international support as needed.
1. As a precondition to treatment, all patients and
nongovernment visitors must go through screening by hospital security that
includes total disarmament.
2. No patient should be detained unless the government
security personnel doing so are acting pursuant to the rule of law (e.g., an
3. Until a physician certifies that a patient's health
status permits transport, the patient should not be removed from the hospital
to face justice.
One hopes that an updated national constitution and the 2014 elections will create some stability for the Yemeni
government. However, human rights and the rule of law must be respected in the
interim, including the rights of hospital patients.
hospitals serve as battlegrounds, UPI (Oct. 22, 2012)
forces endanger health care by raiding hospitals :HRW, Chicago Tribune
(Oct. 20, 2012)
Group: Yemen Security Forces Raid Hospitals, AP via ABC News (Oct. 20,