NEW YORK, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A draft amnesty law approved by Yemeni legislators is tantamount to a license to kill for the country's embattled president, Human Rights Watch said.
The government during the weekend approved a draft amnesty law submitted by Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The draft measure gives President Ali Abdullah Saleh and members of his administration protection from legal or judicial prosecution.
The United Nations last week reminded Yemen amnesty for those accused of atrocities runs counter to international law.
Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director for Middle East programs at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement the draft amnesty measure is insulting.
"Passing this law would be an affront to thousands of victims of Saleh's repressive rule, including the relatives of peaceful protesters shot dead last year," Whitson said. "Yemeni authorities should be locking up those responsible for serious crimes, not rewarding them with a license to kill."
She said even if Yemen passes the measure, it wouldn't "hold water" outside of the country.
Saleh was expected to travel to the United States for medical treatment after spending much of last year in a Saudi military hospital recovering from wounds suffered during a June assassination attempt. He's since reversed course, however, saying he will stay in Yemen to serve as an adviser to his vice president.