Yemen: Two journalists continue to be detained after sentences end
The de facto government in Yemen, the Houthi group, continues to detain two journalists even though they completed their sentences last summer.
On 20 October 2018, in the city of Hodeidah, journalist Mohammed Abdu Ahmed Al-Salahi was arrested after confiscating his mobile phone and the camera he used for filming. Subsequently, on 13 November 2018, journalist Mohammed Ali Salem Al-Junaid was arrested. Both arrests were carried out by individuals working for the Security and Intelligence Service in the city of Hodeidah.
They were later transferred to the Security and Intelligence Service in the capital, Sana'a, where they were referred to the Specialised Criminal Prosecution in Sana’a, which interrogated them and referred their case file to the Specialised Criminal Court of First Instance in Hodeidah. The court issued its verdict against them on 28 June 2022, and sentenced them both to three years and eight months in prison.
They were among 31 detainees from Hodeidah, whose trial took place in secret and lacked the minimum international standards for fair trial and due process, as the defense team was not allowed to attend any hearings. They were convicted of charges that include allegedly “aiding aggression” and “communicating with the enemy,” despite reliable reports confirming that they were subjected during interrogation to enforced disappearance, physical and psychological torture, and the denial of access to their lawyers.
Al-Salahi's sentence ended on 20 June 2022, while Al-Junaid's sentence ended on 13 July 2022, but the authorities have refused to release them so far. Reliable local sources confirmed that they are still being held in order to exchange them with prisoners of war held by other parties to the conflict in the country.
Al-Salahi, 33, is a photojournalist and was studying journalism at Hodeidah University, while Al-Junaid, 45, who suffers due to his deteriorating health, worked as a journalist for “Al-Thawra” newspaper. They continue to be held in the Security and Intelligence prison in Hodeidah.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) strongly condemns the continued detention and abuse of journalists Al-Salahi and Al-Junaid, who despite being independent journalists are being used to exchange with prisoners of war. This constitutes a grave breach of all human rights charters as well as local laws.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls on the de facto government in Sana'a, the Houthi group, to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release the two journalists, Mohammed Abdu Ahmed Al-Salahi and Mohammed Ali Salem Al-Junaid;
- Respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press and allow journalists to do their work; 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."