Yemen : Release of four journalists does not exempt violators from responsibility

The release of the four journalists sentenced to death

Alkarama shares the joy of the families of four Yemeni journalists following their release after eight years of suffering and ill-treatment in Houthi prisons, under the terms of a prisoner and abductee exchange agreement under the auspices of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. However, this does not exempt the perpetrators of violations from their responsibility. 

On Sunday 16 April 2023, the Yemeni city of Marib witnessed the arrival of four freed journalists sentenced to death by the Houthi authorities: Abdul Khaliq Omran, Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Akram Al-Walidi and Harith Hamid, joining five of their comrades previously released under a similar prisoner and abductee exchange agreement.

Alkarama Activism

On 23 December 2022, Alkarama submitted an urgent appeal to the Special Rapporteur on Torture regarding the conditions of Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Harith Hamid and Abdulkhaleq Omran, Yemeni journalists who were tortured while being held in several prisons in Sana'a controlled by the Houthi group calling itself "Ansar Allah".

The journalists were abducted on 9 June 2015 in Sana'a by Houthi militias. After being arbitrarily detained for several years, including a long period of incommunicado detention, four of them were sentenced to death after an unfair trial.

On 3 September 2015, Alkarama first submitted the case of the nine journalists to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. However, none of them were released, on the contrary, they were all severely tortured and forced to sign confessions that were used as evidence in their trial and four were sentenced to death. Although they told the judge that they had been forced to confess under torture, their statements were rejected.

After the death sentence, Alkarama urgently addressed the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, expressing concern that they might be executed, and recently Alkarama learned from their families that they had been severely tortured in prison under the supervision of the head of the Houthi Prisoners' Committee, a man named "Abdul Qader Al-Murtada", which was confirmed by documented testimonies of journalists upon their arrival in an ICRC plane.

Torture in the presence of Houthi officials

In August 2022, the journalists Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Harith Hamid and Abdulkhaleq Omran were transferred to solitary confinement on the first floor of the prison where they were tortured in the presence and under the direction of Abdulqader Al-Murtada, his brother "Abu Shehab Al-Murtada" and his deputy "Abu Hussein".

The three journalists were completely isolated from the outside world for 45 days, after which they were transferred to a collective cell. Each of them bore signs of torture on different parts of their bodies, and Tawfiq al-Mansouri, who was the most affected, had several stitches in his head. He testified that he was beaten on the head until his skull was fractured and he required emergency surgery.

Alkarama reiterates the need to release all those arbitrarily detained in Yemeni prisons and to put an end to the suffering of the disappeared and their families, in particular political activists, namely prominent politician Mohammed Qahtan, who was not included in the exchanges, and must be released unconditionally.

Alkarama stresses the need for the international community to assume its responsibilities in holding perpetrators of human rights violations accountable in the country in order to end the climate of impunity, regardless of the desire to pursue political conciliation at the expense of justice and reparation.