The issue of guarantee, or law of immunity, from prosecution is arousing in Yemen much clamor. Though it is now included in an international deal and the National Reconciliation Government (NRG) and Parliament are bound (by such deal) to promulgate, after its provisions are consensually agreed upon, there is much argument about this law. That is because, to the best of my knowledge, it is an unprecedented case in Yemen's contemporary history, and it causes resentment among millions of youths revolting throughout the Yemeni arena. Moreover, it creates a wide feeling of oppression among families of those who martyred and injured during the past months of revolution. Their consciences have not accepted the idea that killers of their children would escape, or be granted immunity saving them, punishment for grimes they committed.
Parliament members, whether from President Saleh's partisan bloc or other blocs currently represented in the NRG, are greatly baffled about the most appropriate texts that should be chosen for such a law. Many consider it as one of the mines threatening the first stage of transitional period, not only because it is refused by revolutionary youths, but also due to the wording required; should the guarantee provisions be limited to the outgoing president Saleh and his relatives, be extended to include members of his ruling party and his aides who were involved in plotting killings committed recently, or be further extended to all those who worked for him over his third-century reign? Or should the law be drafted in a completely different way as if it is rather a national reconciliation law nullifying (acts of) the past and opening new political and national dimensions for Yemenis? Although, it is recommended for a law like this to have its principles and bases concluded at the comprehensive national dialogue conference set to be held after Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi is elected as president of Yemen on 21 February 2012.
In any case, there are some issues concerning guarantee law that must be highlighted, especially if reports prove true that it would be discussed and approved soon by the NRG in preparation for its ratification by the Parliament. First, those to be included by the law must quit their executive positions immediately after the law is issued, simply because this law implies a conviction for murder, corruption and other crimes for which they otherwise would have been punished.
Therefore, logic dictates that all who would benefit of this favor, particularly the outgoing president, should quit their positions; if this law convicts and, at the same time, forgives them, how can they be trusted again or allowed to keep their posts? That would mean they are re-given the chance to kill, oppress and be corrupted.
Second, should the law benefit all officials worked under Saleh's command over 33 years, those who want should be given chance to be exempted from this law, since there are many upright persons who worked for Saleh's regime but have not been involved in any criminal or immoral acts. These have the right to not be included by this law. This matter must be taken in consideration for the Yemeni lawmakers, what would indeed unmask actual corrupted who destroyed Yemen's economy, looted its properties and dishonored ethics of public post.
Third, for lawmakers, it is impossible that the law contains provisions depriving affected people from their right to prosecute those they think involved in killing any of their relatives, for violations of personal rights are allowed neither by Islamic Sharia, by international laws nor by human rights conventions. The only way through which personal rights can be dropped is to hold a general national conference that includes families of all martyrs and wounded in order to introduce a general pardon and achieve a more noble purpose than the legitimate death-penalty; that is a comprehensive national reconciliation that would save the nation a grosser disturbance. Then, one can say Yemen is on the right path towards actual peace realized through popular will and tolerance.
The immunity or guarantee draft law will remain a time bomb if it does not take account of such important issues as the above-mentioned. Undoubtedly, specialist lawmakers could have a wider vision in this regard, so that this law would, in the longer term, act in the best national interest; but not be a time bomb.