Yemen: Alkarama and 41 human rights organizations call for the lifting of Internet blocking and censorship

حرية الحصول على المعلومة

Alkarama, 41 international and local organizations concerned with freedom of opinion and expression and human rights, condemned the blocking and censorship of the Internet in Yemen and stressed the need for immediate action to end the disturbing violations of digital freedoms, the right of access to information and the right to demonstrate and protest. 

In a joint statement, the organizations called on the de facto authorities in Sana'a, the "Houthi group", to immediately end measures that prevent access to the Internet and lift the ban on news sites, social media platforms and messaging applications in Yemen, in line with Yemen's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

The organization's statement noted that the blocking operations that took place last September, carried out by the service provider company "YemenNet", affiliated to Yemen's General Telecommunications Corporation and currently under the control of the Houthi group, are the latest in a long and ongoing history of Internet blocking and censorship in Yemen and which has intensified since the start of the conflict in 2015 between Houthi forces and government forces supported by the Saudi-led military coalition.

In the context of the deteriorating freedom of expression situation and the ongoing repression of freedom of expression and media freedom, it was reported that since the Houthi forces took control of the Yemeni capital in 2015, a dozen news websites classified as not aligned with the Houthi forces' authorities are currently blocked.

In this context, the organizations reminded the Yemeni authorities that the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly are guaranteed by articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by the Republic of Yemen.


Joint statement

Yemen: Human rights groups condemn internet blocking and censorship 

We, the undersigned local and international human rights organisations, strongly condemn the ongoing internet blocking and censorship in Yemen. We call for immediate action to put an end to this alarming violation of digital freedom, the right to access information, and the right to protest. We remind authorities in Yemen that the right to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly are guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Yemen has ratified. 

On 25 September,2023, the eve of the commemoration of the 26 September Revolution,when Yemen became a republic, the Media Freedom Observatory in Yemen reported that YemenNet, the state-owned telecommunications company currently under the control of the Houthi forces, blocked communication platforms including  Zoom, Google Meet, and Signal. These internet access restrictions were promptly followed by Houthi de facto forces carrying out an alarming wave of arrests of demonstrators, most of whom were peacefully gathered to commemorate the day. 

The measures carried out by YemenNet in September, are the latest in a  long history of internet shutdowns and censorship in Yemen, which has intensified since the start of the conflict in 2015 between  the Houthi forces and the Saudi-led coalition. Since 2017, Yemen has been witnessing  a series of internet disruptions and blockages of social media and messaging platforms, reportedly carried out by the de facto Houthi forces. In 2019, Yemen witnessed the highest rate of internet shutdowns in the Middle East. 

Ongoing ‘cyber war’ 

Attacks on internet infrastructure, control over telecom facilities, internet shutdowns,  and censorship have been used by the different parties to the conflict in Yemen since 2015, constituting what can be described as a 'cyber war’  and are a part of a conflict strategy to control telecommunication and information sector, which continues to impact the overall quality of internet services. 

More recently, in the first quarter of 2023, Yemen experienced a total of 12 reported internet shutdowns. These incidents affected several regions including Shabwah, Taiz, Aden, Hadramaut, Marib, and Abyan, lasting  from a few hours to more than a week. The causes behind these shutdowns ranged from technical problems and floods to unidentified causes. In June 2023, three more internet shutdowns were reported in Taiz and Hadramut, lasting from one to three days. These internet disruptions have been attributed to both sabotage activities and political reasons. 

In a context of conflict and political unrest, total or partial Internet shutdowns have a detrimental impact on daily life in Yemen. Restrictions on internet access affect Yemenis’ right to communicate, to access and exchange information, and other basic human rights such as health and education at a time where Yemen is experiencing  one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. 

YemenNet represents the primary internet service provider in Yemen, apart from Aden Net, recently established by the internationally-recognised government with a subscriber base of nearly 20,000. As the majority of Yemenis continue to depend on YemenNet, any total or partial internet shutdowns and blockages of communication and social media platforms carried out by the company affect all Yemeni governorates, with the exception of the approximately 20,000 subscribers to Aden Net. 

As part of this deteriorating situation of freedom of expression and the continuous crackdown on freedom of expression and media freedom, it was reported that since Houthi forces took control of the Yemeni capital in 2015, a dozen news websites that are classified as not aligned with the Houthi forces’ authorities are currently blocked. The news outlets include AL-Masdar Online, Khabar Agency, Mereb Press, AL-Wahdawi net, Aleshteraky.Net and other major news outlets such as Al Arabiya, Al-Jazeera, and Al Arabi Al Jadid. The blocking represents a serious violation of the fundamental right to press freedom as well as citizens' right to access to information and knowledge. 

We call on the Houthi de facto forces to cease internet shutdown measures and immediately lift the blockage on news websites and social media platforms in Yemen in line with the country’s obligations under the ICCPR.


1.    ARTICLE 19 

2.    The Gulf Centre for Human Rights 

3.    DT Institute 

4.    Tech4Peace 

5.    The Tor Project 

6.    The Studies & Economic Media Center 

7.    Yemeni Media Freedom Observatory 

8.    National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms 

9.    Yemen Future Foundation for Culutre and Media Development 

10.    American Center for Justice 

11.    The Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations 

12.    Marib Dam Foundation for Social Development 

13.    Center for Strategic Studies to Support Women and Children 

14.    YemenWomen Journalists Network 

15.    Association of Abductees Mothers 

16.    The National Organization of Yemeni Reporters 

17.    Defense Foundation for Rights and Freedom 

18.    Center of my Right for Support the Rights and Freedoms 

19.    Media village for development and Information 

20.    Abjad Center for Studies and Development 

21.    Cultural Media Center 

22.    Albelaad center for studies and media 

23.    Musaala Organization for Human Rights 

24.    Alkarama – Geneva 

25.    Center for Political Public Opinion Studies and Research 

26.    Mirrors Media For Development Center 

27.    The Electronic Foundation for Humanitarian Media 

28.    Sawasia Organization For Human Rights 

29.    Monitoring Journalist Network 

30.    Musawah Organization For Rights and Freedoms 

31.    Qarar foundation for Media and Development 

32.    TO BE Foundation For Rights & Freedoms 

33.    Al-Amal Women’s and Sociocultural Foundation 

34.    Humanitarian Journalism Foundation 

35.    Bahth  Foundation for Development and Human Rights 

36.    Dameer Foundation For Human Rights 

37.    Mansa Foundation for Media And Development Studies 

38.    Media Sac for Media and Development 

39.    Wujud Foundation for Human Security 

40.    Yemeni Legal Center 

41.    Yeni Yemen Media Foundation 

42.    Rescue foundation for development