The Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, said today, Friday, June 26, that the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 26 June, comes while thousands of detainees and victims of enforced disappearances in Yemen, in both Houthi prisons and illegal prisons supervised by UAE-backed forces in southern Yemen and Saudi forces and the prisons of the legitimate government in Marib, and the prisons of armed groups, are exposed to various types of severe psychological and physical torture, imprisoned in the prisons that lack the most basic legal and human conditions, and lack basic needs of food, clothing and medicine.
SAM confirmed in a statement on the Day that many of the detention centers have become dark black points in the history of torture in Yemen, where dozens of illegal and secret detention centers devoted to enforced disappearance and the practice of systematic and cruel torture are spread, such as Political Security and National Security prisons, Al-Amiriya Castle in Radaa the Corniche Castle in Hodeidah and Al- Saleh prison Taiz, affiliated with Houthi militias, Bir Ahmed prisons, Waddhah Hall, the Coalition prisons in Aden and formerly Al Rayyan airport in Hadhramaut, Attin prison in Seyun, Azan and Belhaf prisons, belonging to the UAE forces and their militias, and Al-Ma’had detention center in Marib of the legitimate government, and other prisons affiliated with armed groups, where all kinds of torture are practiced in these prisons, leading to death against arbitrary and forcibly disappeared detainees.
The Organization affirmed that torture has become a serious problem in Yemen, which victims and their families alike fear. Over the five years of the war, SAM monitored and documented horrific cases of torture, uncovered the methods of torture practiced by various parties, and issued statements and reports that revealed these practices.
SAM Organization monitored during the three years of the war; from 2014 until the end of 2019, more than three thousand cases of torture, including (150) cases of torture during the year 2019, of which (26) died due to torture, including 21 in prisons of the Houthis militia, some are practiced individually and collectively, where torture leads to death.
The methods of torture documented by the Organization included kicking, beating with truncheons and metal bars, burning, food and water deprivation, and also mock executions, long hours hanging, sexual harassment, use of police dogs, burial in sand holes, use of stimulants, and spraying with cold water, denial of visit, and mock trials.
In addition, cases of torture of women monitored by the Organization in the prisons of the Houthis militia in the capital, Sana'a, where women are subjected to unethical methods and horrific physical and psychological torture, such as depriving them of the sun, depriving them from using the bathrooms except once or twice a day, and the long investigation in late night hours, electric shock, beating with sticks, spraying cold water, beating in the face and nail extraction, in addition to the psychological torture.
SAM confirmed that it has monitored increase in cases of torture in Saudi prisons or by forces and groups loyal to Saudi Arabia in each of the provinces of Al-Mahra and Hadramout, in addition to prisons in the southern border brigades, and Saudi intelligence prisons in the Jizan and Najran regions, and that it is in the process of issuing a detailed report on torture suffered by Yemenis, which resulted in death in some cases.
SAM emphasized the increase in systematic torture in prisons of parties to the conflict in Yemen, whether the Houthis militia or the security formations funded and supervised by the United Arab Emirates or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where torture is used as an effective means to extract confessions, and as a tool to abuse and insult opponents.
SAM organization statistics showed that the number of civilians who died under torture during this period mentioned in the statement was (205), including 56 detainees who died under torture in 2018.
While the organization documented the death of (53) detainees under torture in 2017, and the death of 70 detainees as a result of torture in 2016.
SAM said that it has monitored and documented hundreds of arbitrary and forcibly disappeared detainees who have been subjected to torture, permanent or temporary injuries, in the prisons of the Houthis group, and the UAE-backed armed forces, and who suffer psychological and social consequences due to these practices which are legally criminalized.
SAM indicated that thousands of victims and their families need special medical, psychological, humanitarian, social and legal assistance, and therefore SAM proposes to establish an independent body for the affairs of detainees and forcibly disappeared and victims of torture, working to provide material, psychological and legal support to torture victims in prisons and their families.
SAM said that it is appealing to the Special Rapporteur on Torture, to open a serious investigation into torture crimes in Yemen, and to impose sanctions against the perpetrators. Also, called on the UN envoy to prioritize detainees’ issue in accordance with the Stockholm Agreement. Also, confirmed that it is in contact with the investigation committees on Yemen to include perpetrators within the indictments.
In its statement for the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 26 June, SAM organization called on all parties to abide by the laws of war in the conflict in Yemen, and called for a serious and independent investigation into torture and death under torture and the referral of all those guilty of war crimes to justice.
SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, Geneva
June 26, 2020