Yemen: Actresses Entisar Al-Hammadi & her colleague must be released
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights appeal to the de facto government in Sana’a, the Houthi group, to immediately and unconditionally release two actresses from prison in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital. One of them is actress and model Entisar Al-Hammadi (pictured above) and the other actress does not wish to be publicly named.
On 20 February 2021, Houthis in civilian clothes arrested the two actresses without an arrest warrant at a checkpoint in the Shamlan area, west of Sana’a and held them incommunicado. After the launch of a widespread twitter campaign (#Freedom_for_Entisar_AlHammadi), the Houthis referred Al-Hammadi’s case for investigation in April.
The two women were questioned by the Public Prosecution on 18 April 2021. Al-Hammadi met with her lawyer Khaled Al-Kamal (pictured above) for the first time on 21 April 2021, when she and her colleague, whose lawyer was also present, were investigated by a member of the Public Prosecution Office, principal investigator Riyadh Al-Eryani. He was convinced that there were no real charges against them and ordered their release, which led to his dismissal from the case.
Instead of submitting the release warrant to the head of the Public Prosecution, according to legal procedures, the Deputy Prosecutor transferred the warrant to another member of the Public Prosecution Office, Adel Al-Daeni, who suspended the women’s release
Charges of drug possession and prostitution were brought against the women despite the absence of evidence. There were no prohibited substances with them when they were arrested on a public street, and they were not in an incriminating location. This indicates that the Public Prosecution has fabricated false charges against them.
The two actresses are being held in the women's section of the Sana'a Central Prison, where they face very bad treatment including being verbally harassed with lewd words.
Al-Hammadi and her colleague made a complaint against the security forces' investigators, as they were interrogated blindfolded, before being forced to put their fingerprints on prepared investigation records. Al-Hammadi and her colleague were then transferred to a security agency, where they spent more than ten days, during which time they were subjected to torture and nightly investigations, as well as being deprived of food and drink.
On 05 May 2021, Al-Daeni, the member of the Public Prosecution Office, ordered that Al-Hammadi and her colleague must submit to a medical examination including a virginity test, in violation of the law and the constitution. This is abusive and violates their dignity and their human rights. On 10 May, during a phone call Al-Hammadi told her lawyer that she would refuse to submit to this examination.
The Public Prosecution ordered a publication ban on the case, which the lawyer critised, describing it as illegal. On 05 May 2021, Al-Kamel wrote on his Facebook page, "I hope that the case will not politicise my client, who is in a bad state and does not stop crying and asking God to be released."
Among the legal violations after the arrest of Al-Hammadi and her colleague is that preliminary investigations and evidence gathering took place in the anti-drug department of the Criminal Investigation Centre in Sana'a Governorate, although the Shamlan area is not within its jurisdiction. As such, all investigations should be null and void according to the law.
Another violation of due process was the extension of their detention for a period of 45 days by paper correspondence without presenting them in person to the President of the Court of Appeal, in accordance with the established legal procedures.
Al-Hammadi is a 20-year-old actress of Yemeni and Ethiopian descent who is famous for promoting Yemeni folkloric costumes. She appeared in the series "Dam Al-Gharib" and "Ghurbat Al-Ban" during the holy month of Ramadan last year. She has been subjected to racism and condemned for her profession. The other actress is of a Yemeni father and a Syrian mother.
In addition, the lawyer Al-Kamal has been threatened for defending Al-Hammadi. The Yemeni Bar Association issued a statement on 02 May 2021 in which it reported that a gunman in civilian clothes had threatened Al-Kamal on 27 April 2021 in front of his home, asking him to drop the case completely.
Al-Kamal told GCHR, "The Public Prosecution is trying to place any charge against my client, Entisar Al-Hammadi and her colleague. There is clear abuse as I have not been able to receive the case file so far which is a flagrant violation of her defense rights and has prevented me from preparing my defense, which is without a doubt against the law."
GCHR and the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights strongly condemn the arbitrary arrest and detention of the actress Entisar Al-Hammadi and her colleague, without any legal justification, as they did not commit any crime under the law, which is a flagrant violation of their civil and human rights. We call on the Houthis to release the women immediately and unconditionally. We also call on the authorities to fully respect the rights of women to live free from restrictions based on their gender. Finally, we call on the Houthis to stop attacks on the lawyer Khaled Al-Kamal and allow him to do his work freely.