Yemen: Journalist freed after a month in captivity, while others continue to suffer in prison

01.06.20

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) welcomes the release of a journalist in Yemen, but is alarmed by reports that he appears to have been tortured. In addition, GCHR calls for the release of a journalist held in Ma’rib who is reported to be in poor health, along with all journalists unfairly imprisoned for carrying out their work in Yemen.

On 30 May 2020, Osama Mustafa Swid announced on his Facebook page the news of the release of his brother, journalist Assil Mustafa Swid (picture on the left), saying that he arrived safely in the city of Taiz. He also stated that he is in a state of shock and, “unable to speak, his physical and mental health are poor and he has signs of severe torture inflicted during the period in which he was detained."

He was kidnapped on 01 May 2020, after he left his home in Taiz, heading to Aden, which is 167 km to the south. His family was unable to locate him during the past month, despite submitting a communication to the International Red Cross. Some local reports had stated that he was being held arbitrarily by the Command of the Fifth Brigade, in Lahj Governorate, which is a unit of the United Arab Emirates-backed transitional council.  

For further details of his case, see: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2394

In a separate case, reliable local reports received by GCHR stated that journalist Mohammed Ali Al-Maqri, who is being held in a prison affiliated with the Political Security Directorate in Ma’rib, is suffering from the deterioration of his health. Recently released prisoners who were with him confirmed that he is in a poor psychological state, especially with the dangers posed by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. 

On 16 March 2019, he was kidnapped while he was leaving his home in the Ma'rib governorate where he sought refuge after the Houthis pursued him. The nature of the charges against him are unknown. 

For more details on his case, see: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2195

GCHR urges the authorities and all parties to the conflict in Yemen to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release journalist Mohammed Ali Al-Maqri, and all other journalists detained in Yemen;
  2. Open an immediate, independent, impartial and thorough investigation into the allegations of torture by journalist Assil Mustafa Swid, with the aim of disseminating the findings and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
  3. Ensure that all detained journalists and other prisoners of conscience are held in humane conditions and have access to lawyers and family visits;
  4. Ensure the physical and psychological integrity of journalists and prisoners of conscience, including Mohammed Ali Al-Maqri, during their detention; and
  5. Ensure that all journalists are able to carry out their work without fear of reprisals and free from all restrictions, including judicial harassment and the persecution of their families.