Yemen: Failure of the Muscat Negotiations on Forcibly Disappeared Persons

مفاوضات الأسرى والمخفيين قسرا

Alkarama expresses its profound disappointment at the failure of the negotiations on victims of abduction and forced disappearance in Yemen, held in the Omani capital, Muscat, under the auspices of the United Nations. Among the disappeared is the politician Mohammed Qahtan, abducted from his home in Sanaa nine years ago. 

Alkarama reiterates its call to the authorities affiliated with the Houthi group to release Mohammed Qahtan and all victims of forced disappearance, and to put an end to the policies of repression, intimidation, and persecution exercised against activists, journalists, and workers of international organizations

Alkarama also urges the recognized government authorities to honor their commitments under international human rights law, to end the suffering of victims of arbitrary detention and forced disappearance in the areas under their control, and to eradicate impunity for human rights violations. 

The UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Mr. Hans Grundberg, stated in a communiqué that the recent negotiations in Muscat had led to a significant breakthrough, with the parties agreeing to the release of Mohammed Qahtan, without, however, revealing his fate or setting a timeline for his return to his family. 

The Houthi group, which calls itself "Ansar Allah," continues to exploit the emotions of the family of Yemeni politician Mohammed Qahtan by issuing contradictory statements about his situation, without revealing his fate or place of detention, or allowing his family to contact him, despite the many years of conflict in the country. 

Mohammed Qahtan, a Yemeni politician and leader of the Al-Islah party, was abducted on April 4, 2015, by more than ten men, dressed in civilian and military attire, affiliated with the Ali Saleh alliance and the Houthis, from his home in Sanaa and taken to an unknown location. 

Alkarama's Activities 

In October 2015, Alkarama had already addressed an urgent appeal to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), as well as a second appeal to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), concerning the leader of the Al-Islah party, Mohammed Qahtan. 

In April 2023, Alkarama again reminded United Nations human rights experts of the Qahtan case, seeking an end to the suffering of his family who have been awaiting his return for many years. In a communication addressed to the United Nations special procedures for human rights, Alkarama expressed its disappointment at the omission of Qahtan's situation during the negotiations between the Yemeni parties under the auspices of the United Nations, as part of international efforts to end the war and establish peace in Yemen. 

In a previous letter from the family, a copy of which was received by Alkarama, Qahtan's relatives stated: "We are saddened by the Houthis' persistence in concealing our father despite his civilian status and the circumstances of his abduction from his home while he was representing a political movement advocating peaceful solutions in the face of war." 

Alkarama shares the concern of the Qahtan family, emphasizes the Houthis' responsibility for his life, and insists on the necessity of his release and return to his relatives who have been waiting for him for more than nine years.