The Geneva-based, SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, said that journalists in Yemen are in a disturbing situation, where they are subjected to violations that amount to death.
On the World Press Freedom Day, the organization stated that latest violation against journalists, is the death sentence passed on April 11, 2020, by a court affiliated with the Houthis militia, in Sanaa, against four journalists, Abdulkhaleq Amran, Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Akram Al-Walidi, and Harith Hamid.
The Houthi ruling on the four journalists came after they were forcibly disappeared for four years, during which they were tortured simply for being journalists on the basis of false charges, including cooperating with hostile countries and broadcasting information that affects the morale of citizens according to the term of the unfair judgment.
SAM said, the Yemeni journalists have had a clear role in creating an advanced awareness, at the level of the Arab region and the world, where journalists were in the first line to uncover the truth, document what is going on in Yemen, and create awareness of the Yemeni people, contributed clearly to the movement of change, and obtaining rights, as well as the identifying universal values and principles related to freedom, equality and elimination of discrimination, equal opportunities and other legal and constitutional rights.
"It is scary for journalists, the heroes of the truth, remain working in this volatile and turbulent environment that monitors their actions and words, security and intelligence services, seeing the journalist as an enemy that must be silenced or hidden in cold blood, without real and serious protection by the international community, and demanded "to activate accountability and announcing a shame list of violators of human rights in Yemen. "
SAM emphasized that journalists are exposed to violations in prisons that lack the most basic elements of humanity, while the world is monitoring all calls for their rescue without moving a finger.
The organization said that the testimonies it obtained from multiple sources confirm that all journalists in the prisons of the Houthis militia suffer from severe illnesses due to torture, in addition to lack of health services, denied visitation, clothes, and prevented from healthy food and clean mattresses, placed in underground rooms with no ventilation and sunlight, and the organization added, "Torture has become part of the Houthis militia’s strategy against the detained journalists."
SAM indicated that it is in the process of issuing a comprehensive report on the conditions of journalists in Yemen in the coming days, which includes statistics of the violations caused by the conflict in Yemen against journalists since 2014 until the end of 2018, in addition to documenting many stories that included violations of journalists and media institutions in Yemen during the war years, including premeditated killing, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture, salary suspension, looting of institutions, forced displacement, and other crimes that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
SAM indicated that the statistics it carried out, which covered the period from 2015 to the end of 2019, amounted to more than 1,200 violations against journalists and press freedoms in Yemen, committed by the parties to the conflict, and added that “Houthis militia leads the list of violators of press freedoms by 60%, followed by the Arab Coalition and the legitimate government with 25%, and 10% Emirati-backed Transitional Council, 5% other groups
SAM stated that its team of 11 monitors and 10 collaborators, activists and media workers, documented these violations through personal interviews and phone calls, using the monitoring forms, beside contacts that reach the organization.
SAM explained that the statistics she carried out confirmed that 40 journalists had been killed during the aforementioned period, that 137 journalists had been detained, 34 journalists had been tortured, 74 journalists had been physically assaulted, 175 news channels and websites had been blocked, and 74 media facilities and outlets had been looted and confiscated, mostly in the capital, Sanaa. And 17 journalists were subjected to exceptional trials on malicious charges, and 5 journalists were sentenced to death by courts affiliated with the Houthis militia, and the forced displacement of more than 400 journalists.
The statement welcomed any efforts aimed at stopping the targeting of journalists, release of the arbitrarily detainees, particularly those sentenced by the Houthis court to death, and the provision of psychological and material support to them and their families, especially journalists who were forced to leave Yemen for fear of being arrested and tortured.
SAM called on all parties to adhere to the laws of war in the conflict in Yemen, and called for a serious and independent investigation into crimes targeting press freedoms and journalists. It also demanded that investigation committees to refer all those found guilty of war crimes to justice.
SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, Geneva
May 3, 2020