Yemen: Four journalists facing death penalty, among other continued violations against due process & freedom of expression


The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) protests the ongoing imprisonment of four journalists and a woman human rights defender in addition to an innocent citizen, who have not received due process in Yemen. GCHR is also concerned at the additional violations against freedom of expression taking place in the country, including the storming of a journalists’ syndicate branch in Aden. 

Four journalists still facing execution

Four journalists have not yet been brought to court despite the decision of the Specialised Criminal Appeals Court (Division) in the capital, Sana’a, on 06 November 2022, to oblige the Public Prosecution to bring the four journalists, Abdulkhaleq Ahmed Amran, Akram Saleh Al-Walidi, Al-Hareth Saleh Hamid and Tawfiq Mohammed Al-Mansouri, back to court to appeal their sentence. Subsequent hearings were adjourned, one after another, as they were not brought before the court.

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.

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 Prisoners Affairs Committee, Abdulqadir Al-Murtada. Since their transfer, they have not been able to meet their families or lawyers, and they have not been allowed to make phone calls since early August 2022.

In a statement to GCHR, prominent human rights lawyer Abdulmajeed Sabra said, "The four journalists, from about seven months ago until this moment are being held in conditions similar to enforced disappearance and their fate is unknown. Although I am their lawyer, I do not know anything about them, as they are not allowed to contact anyone contrary to all human rights conventions." He added, "I announce that the defense team will withdraw from the case if they are not brought in the next session before the Specialised Criminal Appeals Court (Division) during the next hearing to be held on 05 March 2023. Abdulqadir Al-Murtada bears direct responsibility for isolating them, depriving them of all their rights, and not bringing them to court."

Headquarters of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate branch in Aden stormed

On 01 March 2023, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate published a statement on its website denouncing the armed men affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council who stormed and seized the headquarters of its branch in Aden Governorate, after intimidating the members of the administrative body of the branch and the workers in the building. This is the second storming of the Syndicate branch in Aden, which was previously stormed by forces affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council on 20 September 2021.

The Syndicate stated, "The storming of the syndicate's headquarters, which is owned according to the laws and documents of the General Assembly of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, constitutes a blatant violation of the syndicate's life, and destroys the achievements of the syndicate activities and their cohesion in a complex scene in which the Syndicate of Journalists remained at the same distance from all parties as a professional organisation aiming to protect rights, preserve freedoms, and defend its members."

The headquarters was restored peacefully later on the same day in the presence of a large number of journalists and lawyers, in addition to the director of police in the city of Tawahi, one of the directorates of Aden Governorate where the headquarters of the Syndicate branch is located.

GCHR condemns the repeated storming of the headquarters of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate in Aden by gunmen affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council, and calls on it to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and allow journalists to do their work in addition to refraining from attacking the Syndicate headquarter.

Woman human rights defender remains arbitrarily detained

The Yemeni Security and Intelligence Service continues to arbitrarily detain 35-year-old woman human rights defender Fatima Saleh Al-Arwali, head of Al-Habitat Organisation for Human Rights Development, and prevent her from contacting her family or receiving visits by them.

On 14 August 2022, Al-Arwali was arrested at Al-Hawban checkpoint while she was traveling from Sana’a to the city of Aden, based on an order for her arrest issued by the Security and Intelligence Service, which has detained her in its prison since then and isolated her from the outside world.

Reliable local reports received by GCHR confirmed that her file was referred on 14 February 2023 by the Security and Intelligence Service to the Specialised Criminal Prosecution.

For more details of her case, see:

Citizen Hanan Shuei Al-Montaser sentenced to 12 years in prison

On 22 February 2023, the Specialised Criminal Court of First Instance in Sana'a issued its verdict against citizen Hanan Shuei Al-Montaser, in which it sentenced her to 12 years in prison, starting from the date of her arrest, after she was convicted of the charges against her.

On 09 February 2023, human rights lawyer Abdulmajid Sabra published on his Facebook page a distress call to save the life of Al-Montaser, a citizen who is being held in the Central Prison, after her mother called him on the evening of the previous day to tell him that Al-Montaser was suffering from suppuration in the brain and that her body had begun to swell.

On 03 July 2019, Al-Montaser was arrested by individuals affiliated with the General Department for Combating Terrorism in Sana'a, after alleged charges were brought against her, which included "aiding the aggression, communicating with it, and providing it with coordinates." After more than a year and a half of detention, she was referred on 08 March 2021 to the Specialised Criminal Prosecution, which, after interrogation, referred her file on 13 June 2021 to the Specialised Criminal Court of First Instance in Sana’a. Well-informed local sources confirmed that after her arrest, she was subjected to beatings and torture in the General Department for Combating Terrorism, and that she was forced, after covering her eyes, to sign papers whose contents she did not know.


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

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release the four journalists, Abdulkhaleq Ahmed Amran, Akram Saleh Al-Walidi, Al-Hareth Saleh Hamid and Tawfiq Mohammed Al-Mansouri after overturning their sentences;
  2. Immediately and unconditionally release woman human rights defender Fatima Saleh Al-Arwali;
  3. Immediately release Hanan Shuei Al-Montaser, and conduct a comprehensive, independent and fair investigation into allegations of violent beatings and torture;
  4. End the use of the death penalty to stifle freedom of expression and peaceful assembly;
  5. Respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and allow journalists to do their work; and
  6. 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."