The Arrest of The Lawyer Sami Yassin Constitutes a Threat To Human Rights Defenders
  • 14/02/2024
    SAM |

    Geneva - SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties stated that a force affiliated with the Security Belt camp in Aden, led by Jalal Al-Rubaie, arbitrarily arrested lawyer Sami Yassin Commander of March on Thursday, November 16, 2023, due to his legal work. He was forcibly taken after his car was intercepted and forcibly taken to one of the solitary cells in the prisons of the Victory camp, without any legal justification, without allowing him to contact his family or allowing them to visit him. The organization emphasizes the need to disclose the fate of lawyer Sami Yassin and release him immediately without any conditions.

    Tawfiq Al-Hamidi stated that the arrest of lawyer Sami Yassin due to his advocacy in a torture case poses a serious threat to human rights defenders. Yassin is known for his passion and clarity in defending the rights of victims before the judiciary and providing them with legal assistance. This has made him a target for many in the security and judicial authorities. According to audio testimonies that Sami listened to, they confirm that he is a victim of the absence of the law, the weakness of judicial and supervisory institutions, and the influence of rogue security agencies that seek to silence all voices advocating for the victims who have been violated by these agencies.

    On the morning of Thursday, November 16, 2023, an armed force affiliated with the Security Belt Forces, led by Jalal Al-Rubaie, intercepted the car of lawyer Sami Yassin as he was leaving the building of the Supreme Judicial Council and the Judicial Inspection Authority in Khormaksar area in the city of Aden. They brandished their weapons, restrained him, and forcibly took him, placing him under unlawful detention in an undisclosed prison until today. His family has been denied the right to visit him, ascertain his well-being, meet with his lawyer, and engage in lawful conversations with him. Despite appeals made by his family to the judicial authorities and repeated reports and demands from the Lawyers Syndicate to the Public Prosecutor, the armed authorities have refused to allow even the Public Prosecutor, who is legally authorized to oversee prisons, to visit and interview him to assess his condition and the circumstances of his abduction and hear his statements.

    In his complaint to the SAM organization, his brother said, "My brother has been subjected to arbitrary arrest, mistreatment, and physical assault upon his arrest. He was arrested near the building of the Judicial Inspection Authority in Khormaksar at 11:00 AM, and a police report was filed at Khormaksar Police Station with reference number (21) on November 16, 2023." He further added, "Since November 16, 2023, my brother Sami has been prevented from contacting the outside world. He has been deprived of legal representation, and his family has been prohibited from visiting him or obtaining any information about his health condition." He emphasized that his brother has been "deprived of basic necessities such as medical treatment, food, water, appropriate clothing, and medical care. In addition, he has been prevented from practicing his profession as a lawyer and handling legal cases, thus hindering all his interests and the interests of his clients."

    On the evening of Thursday, November 16, 2023, at around 11:00 PM, an armed force dressed in military attire, consisting of three units, raided the home of the lawyer Mr. Sami Yassin. They remained there until approximately 2:00 AM on Friday. Sami was shown pictures revealing that the armed force had smashed the entrances and doors of the house and tampered with its contents. They took all of the lawyer's belongings, including personal papers, client case files that he was working on, and everything related to the detained lawyer and his human rights work, before leaving the premises.

    Lawyer Sami Yassin is a defender of the rights of the victim, Muhrim Fuad Al-Darmali, who died under torture in the police station in Aden on June 9, 2023. According to the appeal, the victim was subjected to severe torture inside the Aden police station by security personnel who brutally tortured him, leaving his body stiff and in an upright position until it hardened. Afterward, they erased the camera footage, tampered with the crime scene, and staged the body, as confirmed by forensic evidence showing signs of staging and injuries inflicted after his death and the stiffening of the body.

    The guardians of the victim's bloodline further stated that their lawyer, Yassin, was threatened with liquidation and subjected to insults and humiliation inside the Attorney General's building by the military commander of the Attorney General's Office Protection, Emad Mahmoud Akash, the brother of the main suspect, Maher Mahmoud Akash, the director of the Aden police. They affirmed that he, along with others, "threatened Lawyer Sami Yassin, the march leader, upon his entry into the Attorney General's building with the intention of preventing him from practicing his profession or terrorizing the guardians of the bloodline," exploiting his authority as the head of the Attorney General's Office security, even to the extent of interfering in matters of justice and influencing the course of the case. This can be verified through the surveillance cameras inside the Attorney General's office, which will provide evidence of all these allegations.

    Lawyer Yassin is a member of the Yemeni Bar Association, Aden branch, and practices his work under a license

    At 1:00 PM on Friday, October 30, 2023, Sam listened to an audio recording in which she couldn't independently verify the source between the leader in the Security Belt camp in Aden, "Miass Haidara Al-Ja'dani," and the lawyer Sami Yassin. The recording captured Al-Ja'dani expressing his annoyance with the complaint filed by the lawyer against the officials of the Security Belt camp. He said to the lawyer, "Why did you file a complaint against me? I hope the same happens to you, Sami. Don't worry, Sami, your fate is coming. Your turn is not over yet." Some consider this as an implicit threat of retaliation.

    After this call, Sami was subjected to arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance. Despite the efforts of Sami Yassin's family to seek legal intervention to investigate the case, the leader of the Security Belt camp refused to present Sami Yassin to the prosecution and provide legal records documenting his condition. According to recent information received by his family, "Lawyer Sami Yassin was subjected to assault and torture, resulting in severe injuries on the day of his arrest. He was forced to sign blank papers, which is the reason for his forced disappearance for over three months."

    Aden has become under the security control of the security apparatus affiliated with the Transitional Council. The absent state authorities, represented by the Ministry of Interior, exercise their powers. These armed forces receive complaints, adjudicate civil cases, establish unlawful prisons, investigate citizens, and detain some of them for weeks and months without legal justification, in plain sight of the leadership of the Ministry of Interior, the Public Prosecutor's Office, official oversight agencies, and the judiciary in Aden. Therefore, they bear full responsibility for the security deterioration and the safety of Lawyer Sami Yassin and the risks he may face.

    Sam has reviewed a number of appeals and case records, including an assignment report dated December 3, 2023. The report states that a prosecutor was instructed to visit the Al-Nasr camp based on the directives of the Deputy Prosecutor of Khormaksar Primary Court, in order to hear Lawyer Yassin's statements regarding the complaint filed by his family. Upon arrival at the camp, both the camp's director of investigations and the deputy director of affairs refused to comply with the prosecutor's decision to hear Lawyer Yassin's statements, citing incomplete investigations and claiming that the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the criminal prosecution. This action confirms the dominance of the armed forces over the legal and judicial institutions in Aden.

    The arrest of Lawyer Yassin without proper legal procedures is a grave violation of Yemeni laws and provisions, as stated in Article 132 of the Yemeni Code of Criminal Procedure. Lawyers are granted legal protection under the Law on the Legal Profession, and this reveals a widespread pattern of repression carried out by the armed forces loyal to the Transitional Council against activists who are perceived as opponents of the Transitional Council's policies that violate human rights. Human rights organizations have documented and highlighted numerous reports of violations against activists, including their enforced disappearance, assault, torture, home invasions, baseless accusations, and denial of their right to a fair trial.

    Sam asserts that the incident involving Lawyer Sami Yassin constitutes a crime of assault against a lawyer, falling under the jurisdiction of the specialized prosecution for crimes against public officials and also falls under the jurisdiction of the financial prosecution. The Bar Association (and its registered branch) has the duty to defend one of its members by issuing statements and letters to the prosecution, urging them to take action against the abduction. Furthermore, it represents a grave violation of human rights, as it is a complete and orchestrated crime of assault and abduction, which requires the judicial authorities to address it, investigate the perpetrators, and take urgent action to uncover his fate, instead of resorting to unjustified silence and procrastination towards such a serious violation.

    SAM concludes her statement by calling on the leadership of the Security Belt Forces to disclose the fate of Lawyer Sami Yassin and to release him immediately without any conditions. She emphasizes the importance of the authorities overseeing the area where the abduction took place to provide sufficient information about the incident and the individuals involved, and to ensure that they are brought to fair trial for their unjustified and serious violation of several principles and international legal agreements.

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