Yemen: Four journalists face retrial; and enforced disappearance of woman activist continues
On 06 November 2022, the Specialised Criminal Appeals Court in Sana’a, held a hearing in the case of four journalists, Abdulkhaleq Ahmed Amran, Akram Saleh Al-Walidi, Al-Hareth Saleh Hamid and Tawfiq Mohammed Al-Mansouri, at renewed risk of execution in Yemen. The hearing was devoted to reviewing the request submitted by the defense team, which included the court's lack of jurisdiction to consider this case. The court rejected this request and instead decided to compel the Public Prosecution to bring the four journalists before the court in another hearing on 04 December 2022.
Prominent human rights lawyer Abdulmajeed Sabra, who is in charge of defending the four journalists, told the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), "Our defense of the lack of jurisdiction of the Specialised Criminal Appeals Court was based on the three points below:
1. The Specialised Criminal Appeals Court is a special court that was established to consider specific cases, not including those related to journalists, regardless of the charges and actions against them.
2. The Yemeni legislature has established a special prosecution and court for journalists' cases, with jurisdiction to consider charges against them of any kind, even if they are related to state security.
3. What the case file contained of facts attributed to journalists are true and real facts that took place on the ground, and are not false or malicious news or rumours, but rather have nothing to do with military preparations, as stated by the Public Prosecution in the indictment."
With regards to their circumstances in detention, Sabra confirmed that, "there is nothing new about their health status, the previous situation still exists, or their health condition may have worsened amid the absence of necessary health care; and as for visits, they are definitely prohibited, except for intermittent phone calls from time to time."
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.
For more information on their case, see: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/3084
Meanwhile, in a separate case, GCHR received numerous reports confirming that woman human rights defender Dr. Fatima Saleh Al-Arwali, head of the Habitat Organization for Human Rights Development, remains detained in a prison affiliated with the National Security Agency in Sana’a. These reports indicated that she was forcibly disappeared, as she was not allowed visits or the assistance of a lawyer.
On 07 October 2022, GCHR documented her enforced disappearance and conflicting local reports about her fate.
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:
- Immediately and unconditionally release the four journalists; and
- 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.
GCHR also calls on the de facto government, the Houthi group, to provide all the information they have about human rights defender Dr. Fatima Saleh Al-Arwali and her current whereabouts, to provide her with all forms of protection, and to release her immediately if she is detained by the Houthis.