Geneva - SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said that the Saudi authorities should disclose the fate of the Yemeni activist, "Samira Al-Houri" and her son, "Ahmed Al-Halili", who have been forcibly disappeared since April 2022. The organization stressed that the continued silence of the authorities on their whereabouts and ignoring the appeal of their families is an explicit violation of the rules and legal norms stipulated by international law, especially the enforced disappearance of people without their families knowing their whereabouts.
Samira Al-Houri was one of the women who survived the prisons of the Houthi group, where she was subjected to arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of the Houthi group before she was released in 2020 from their detention centers. She was active on TV channels and social media and was keen to expose the violations Yemeni women are subjected to in the prisons of the Houthi group; therefore, she has become an important voice advocating for Yemeni women victims.
According to the statement of the family of her son, Ahmed Al-Halili, “The suffering of Ahmed and his mother began in the prisons of the Houthi militia in Sana'a, and continued after they were able to flee from the areas controlled by the Houthis. Then they moved to Marib Governorate before they were transferred by private plane to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the official authorities. They arrived in Saudi Arabia on January 18, 2020, where they were temporarily hosted in a hotel at the expense of the Saudi government, before being transferred to an apartment belonging to a Saudi security agency.”
Tawfiq Al-Hamidi said, “The Saudi authorities must deal transparently with the relatives of “Samira” and her son, “Ahmed”, disclose their whereabouts, ensure their safety, and release them immediately, for enforced disappearance constitutes a crime that requires accountability.”
On April 17, 2022, Samira’s family lost contact with her, according to the statement of her “daughter,” and she added, “I contacted my mother's second-degree relatives in order to file a report with the police station in Saudi Arabia about her disappearance, but this report was not cooperated with by the police, as it was not listed. They told her relatives that this case had nothing to do with them, and it was a state issue.” She added, “After a week, their phones were opened, and it seemed that someone was searching them. I continued to send people for a month to their place of residence to knock on the door, but there was no response. This was the only way for us because the Saudi government did not interact with us.”
The suffering of the activist, Samira, according to her daughter's testimony, and the statement of the family and her son, "Ahmed Al-Halili", began in the prisons of the Houthi militia in Sana'a, and continued after they were able to flee from the areas controlled by the Houthis. Then they moved to Marib Governorate before they were transferred by private plane to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the official authorities. They arrived in Saudi Arabia on January 18, 2020, where they were temporarily hosted in a hotel at the expense of the Saudi government, before being transferred to an apartment belonging to a Saudi security agency.
She added, “Samira travelled to Egypt for treatment on February 18, 2020, to return to Saudi Arabia on September 25, 2020. She also appeared on several Saudi channels to testify about what she was subjected to in the prisons of the Houthi militia, yet we were surprised by the disappearance of "Ahmed Al-Halili" and his mother, "Samira Al-Houri", on April 17, 2022, without knowing their whereabouts.”
“SAM” contacted the brother of “Ahmed Al-Halili”, who was disappeared with his mother, and he said: “Ahmed is my half-brother, and we have the same father. After we lost contact with him, we contacted the Yemeni and Saudi embassies. However, none of these parties responded to us. We also contacted all the existing numbers of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, and there was no response. We even contacted the Saudi embassy in Germany, but they told us that they were not specialized in such matters and refused to transfer us to any competent authority.”
Human rights law describes enforced disappearance as the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person. “SAM” fears that "Samira" and her son will be subjected to torture, as the torture incidents documented by the organization earlier reveal that forcibly disappeared persons are more vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment, especially when they are detained outside official detention centers such as police stations and prisons.
The crime of enforced disappearance is described as a crime against humanity under Article 5 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Disappearance, which states: “The widespread or systematic practice of enforced disappearance constitutes a crime against humanity as defined in applicable international law and shall attract the consequences provided for under such applicable international law.”
“SAM” calls upon the Saudi authorities to immediately disclose the fate of the Yemeni activist "Samira Al-Houri" and her son "Ahmed Al-Halili" and to release them unconditionally and enable them to communicate with their families. These authorities must also fully explain and reveal the circumstances of their enforced disappearance, its causes, and the party that committed this violation.