Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Houthis in Yemen to release all detained journalists

June 1, 2019

The Ansar Allah group, referred to as the Houthis, should immediately release all journalists in its custody and also quit its campaign of detentions and intimidation against journalists working in places under its control, the Committee to Protect Journalists stated.

The Houthis are anticipated to start what they have identified as free trial process in June or July not less than 10 journalists that have already been detained for practically 4 years, based on Abdullah al-Mansouri, the brother of one of the journalists, along with a statement from the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate sent to CPJ by syndicate co-chair Nabil Alosaidi.

Al-Mansouri told CPJ that Houthi guards in the Political Security Prison in Sanaa , Yemen’s capital , allegedly tortured and mistreated his brother , Tawfiq al-Mansouri , by hitting him with sticks , cables , iron bars , rifle butts , and their fists , and also by forcing him to hold cinder blocks for several hours and preventing him from drinkable water for about a day . Al-Mansouri sent CPJ a document detailing the alleged torture and mistreatment of the other journalists in Houthi detention, which included beatings, verbal abuse, and rejection of medical care. CPJ could not independently verify the allegations of torture and mistreatment.

 

Houthi forces control most of Yemen’s north and west, as well as Sanaa, and for the past four years have been at war with the internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition. The Houthis have effectively taken over government institutions in Sanaa previously run by the internationally recognized authorities, such as intelligence companies and the judiciary.

 

“The Houthis have demonstrated their brutality by controlling at least 10 journalists with what by all accounts are deplorable conditions for nearly four years,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour stated in Washington, D .C. “Journalists are not combatants and they must not pay the price for Yemen’s conflict. The Houthis should immediately release all journalists in their custody .”

 

A Houthi-controlled prosecutorial body recently came to the conclusion research into an enclosure it will be brought against the 10 journalists, but will keep trial proceedings for them after Ramadan concludes in early on June, the journalists’ lawyer, Abdel Majeed Farea Sabra, told CPJ. The journalists are Abdulkhaleq Amran, Hesham Tarmoum, Hareth Hameed, Akram al-Waleed, Essam Balghaith, Hisham al-Yousifi, Haitham al-Shihab, Hassan Anaab, Tawfiq al-Mansouri, and also Salah al-Qaeda. In December 2017, CPJ reported the detention and also abuse of all 10 journalists, together with several others.

 

Sabra informed CPJ that the Houthis accuse the journalists of “aiding the coalition against Yemen,” referring to the Saudi-led military coalition helping the internationally recognized government, and “spreading news and rumors” in assisting all of them against the Houthis. Sabra told CPJ that a part of the cause the Houthis were just now initiating the things they describe as a trial is really because the Houthi leaders were attempting to have them released as part of a prisoner exchange deal with the Yemeni government.

 

CPJ was unable to verify this claim; nevertheless, CPJ has previously reported on journalists detained by the Houthis who were released during prisoner exchanges. Journalists have told CPJ that Houthi authorities think about them to be indistinguishable from armed combatants. Sabra noted that Yemeni law along with the constitution requires authorities to either release detained suspects or even introduce these to the judicial method within 24 hours, and told CPJ that he had sent the Houthis a petition demanding the journalists’ release.

Mohammad Abdulsalam, a spokesperson for Ansar Allah, did not immediately respond to CPJ’s email concerning any kind of forthcoming process regarding the journalists, reports which they could be released as part of a prisoner exchange, or allegations of torture throughout their detention.

Abdullah al-Mansouri, the brother of Tawfiq al-Mansouri, informed CPJ by means of messaging app that he has not already been allowed to check out his brother for long stretches of time, which male family member tend to be barred from going to the detainees. Other family members are permitted more frequent, albeit brief, visits. Al-Mansouri added that he along with the other relatives have never already been permitted to visit his brother in any way during Ramadan and that Houthi government bodies refused to allow them to deliver food, clothing, or medicine. Al-Mansouri stated he fears the journalists will be executed due to the proceedings.

In an undated created document detailing the conditions of journalists delivered to CPJ, al-Mansouri declared that at certain points the Houthis only permit female relatives to pay a visit to the detained journalists, which the visits will always be carried out with a Houthi gunman present.

Al-Mansouri has written in the document that the Houthi captors permitted his brother to render one phone call to the family since he was detained and that his brother is actually afflicted with a heart ailment and shortness of breath. Al-Mansouri also wrote that the nine journalists detained along with his brother in an exact cell suffer from ailments including persistent headaches, hearing loss, dizziness, and severe stomach discomfort due to malnutrition and abuse in Houthi custody.

Sabra told CPJ that he has only had the opportunity to meet with the journalists twice, in September 2018 and November 2018, and is not able to communicate freely with them. According to Sabra, the Houthis forbid lawyers from being found during interrogations, and since November 2018 he has received information of their ill-treatment from the family members who are allowed to visit them.

The Houthis possess detained additional journalists, based on CPJ reporting. Journalists and media outlets have also experienced airstrikes, arson attacks, arbitrary detentions, as well as other press freedom violations by both sides in the Yemeni conflict.

 

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