Yemen: Release four journalists facing death penalty

05.08.22

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses its grave concern about the safety of four journalists sentenced to death in Yemen for their peaceful journalistic activities and calls for their immediate and unconditional release. Since their arrest in 2015, they have been sentenced to death, then transferred off death row two years ago - giving them false hope that they would be freed, and are now appealing their sentence while they suffer in very poor detention conditions.

Reliable local sources confirmed that the four journalists, Abdulkhaleq Ahmed Amran, Akram Saleh Al-Walidi, Al-Hareth Saleh Hamid and Tawfiq Mohammed Al-Mansouri, are still facing cruel and inhuman treatment in detention, and deliberate neglect of their health, in addition to physical and psychological torture, including beatings, verbal insults and threats. GCHR believes that this treatment is tantamount to condemning them to a slow death.

Their health conditions have worsened, especially Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, who suffers from many chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, and Akram Al-Walidi, whose mother sent a distress voice message in which she appealed to everyone to save her son from the death staring at him from all sides.

On 22 April 2020, the four journalists filed an appeal against the initial death sentence issued against them by the Specialised Criminal Court in a hearing held on 11 April 2020.

Prominent Human rights lawyer Abdulmajeed Sabra began the appeals process after receiving a new power of attorney on 20 April 2020 from the four journalists to defend them.

In October 2020, the four journalists were transferred from the Security and Intelligence Prison to the Exchange House, which 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. The exchange house is located in the central security camp in Sana'a. The prisoner exchange operations are supervised by the Chairman of the Houthi Prisoner Exchange Committee, Abdulqadir Al-Murtada.

On 28 February 2021, the Specialised Criminal Appeals Court in Sana’a began hearing the case, after which several hearings were held. The most recent hearing on 31 July 2022 was devoted to address the defense team’s comments on the Public Prosecution’s response to the defense statement. The court decided to postpone the hearing until 21 August 2022, and has not read the defense team's comments.

Abdulmajeed Sabra told GCHR, "As their lawyer, I have not been able to meet or visit them since their arrest in 2015."

Recommendations

Urgently, GCHR calls on the international community, especially governments that have influence in Yemen, in addition to various United Nations mechanisms including the concerned special rapporteurs, to intervene immediately to ensure the health and physical safety of the four journalists, and obtain their immediate and unconditional release.

GCHR calls on the de facto government in Sana'a, the Houthi group, to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release the four journalists; and
  2. Implement the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) and in particular Rule V(1) which states, “The prison system should endeavor to minimise the differences between prison and free life.

Act now!

Please circulate widely the news about the condition of all four prisoners of conscience, and tweet the appeal to the UN Special Procedures to request their intervention.

Contact Information:          

- United Nations Special Rapporteurs:

@UN_SPExperts

- The de facto government in Sana'a, the Houthi group:

Ansarullah Spokesperson, Mohamed Abdelsalam

Twitter handle: @abdusalamsalah

Email address: mdabdalsalam@gmail.com