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Yemen: Human rights defender Hisham Al-Omeisy arrested and held incommunicado

2017-08-20

Prominent human rights defender and on-line activist Hisham Al-Omeisy has been arrested by Houthi authorities and remains in detention without access to a lawyer or his family.

At approximately 2:45pm on 14 August 2017, a large group of security officers from the National Security Bureau (NSB) arrested Hisham Al-Omeisy in Jawlat al-Misbahi in south Sana’a.  He is being detained in an undisclosed location and as yet, no charge has been brought against him in a flagrant breach of Yemeni and international law. Since his arrest he has had no contact with a lawyer or his family and there are serious concerns for his health and well-being.

Hisham Al-Omeisy promotes human rights, most notably, by his on-line activism.  Through social media he provides a commentary and analysis on Yemen’s conflict and reports on events including airstrikes led by the Saud-led coalition.  He has also written about the limited space for civil society in Yemen. He is regularly active on Twitter- https://twitter.com/omeisy. Recent postings include:

- Saudi Co & #Yemen gov say Sana'a airport closed out of concern for safety of planes. That's codswallop, THEY ARE ONES BOMBING for 2+ years.

- Armed goons backed by corrupt officials are forcefully taking real estate properties in Sana'a. They just showed up at my door. #Yemen

- Correct. UN calling it "worst cholera outbreak in world", when cholera continues spreading wildfire, is understatement. Let sink in. #Yemen

The arrest and detention of Hisham Al-Omeisy is another example of the harassment and targeting of human rights defenders and journalists in Yemen as they attempt to draw attention to the on-going conflict and strive to promote and protect human rights.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses serious concern for the health and safety of Hisham Al-Omeisy particularly as he is being held incommunicado in an undisclosed location. GCHR expresses further concern for the situation of all those in Yemen who are being targeted as a result of legitimately reporting on the conflict.

GCHR urges the authorities in Yemen to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release Hisham Al-Omeisy;
  2. Guarantee Hisham Al-Omeisy immediate access to a lawyer and contact with his family;
  3. Guarantee the physical and psychological safety of Hisham Al-Omeisy while he remains in detention;
  4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all journalist, media workers and human rights defenders in Yemen are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters“, and to Article 12 (2): “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present declaration.