Yemen: Four journalists tortured and ill-treated

08.09.21

According to reliable local reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, on the evening of 21 August 2021, four journalists being held in a prisoner exchange house in Yemen were attacked and tortured.Following the attack, the four men - Abdulkhaleq Ahmed Amran, Tawfiq Mohammed Al-Mansouri, Akram Saleh Al-Walidi and Al-Hareth Saleh Hamid-  were placed in solitary confinement, where they were subjected to continuous physical torture, according to GCHR’s sources.

After two days, three of the journalists were taken out of solitary confinement but Amran was not with them, and local sources confirmed he was transferred to an unknown destination. These sources added that Al-Mansouri was again subjected to torture - he was hung and beaten with iron rods and electric wires for several hours in sensitive areas of his body such as his back and stomach, leaving clear marks of torture, according to the same sources.

It is worth noting that, in addition to these violations, visits by their families and their defense lawyers are prohibited, and they suffer from poor health services. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Houthi Prisoner Exchange Committee, Abdulqadir Al-Murtada, who is the supervisor of the Exchange House, announced on Twitter that, "We have directives to deal with prisoners as guests and provide them with all the necessary services."

In connection with these developments, a member of their defense team, human rights lawyer Abdulmajeed Sabra, told GCHR, "They have been cut off from contacting me for several months, and visits have been prohibited since they were referred to the Exchange House for ten months."

The four journalists have been held in the Exchange House since October 2020, after a court ordered they be transferred there following their trial. The four journalists were previously sentenced to death on charges of "espionage" and "spreading false news." The Exchange House is a prison that holds prisoners whom the de facto government (the Houthi group) decides to exchange with Houthi prisoners of war held by other parties to the conflict. It’s located in the central security camp in the centre of Sana'a.

For more information on their case, see: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2665 and https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2625

GCHR condemns the torture of the journalists and their prolonged detention in the Exchange House following their sentencing, and calls for their immediate and unconditional freedom. GCHR calls on the Houthi authorities to end the practise of torture in detention, and to abolish the use of the death penalty. GCHR further calls on the United Nations to continue to press the Houthi authorities to free all journalists and allow them to carry out their work unhindered, and to respect the right to freedom of expression.