The security authorities in Marib must release those arbitrarily detained
  • 22/04/2024
    SAM |

    Geneva - The SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties stated that the security authorities in Marib Governorate continue to practice arbitrary arrests and widespread illegal detention against civilians, the latest of which was the arrest of Abdulhakim Omair on March 16, 2024, in addition to the continued arbitrary detention of Yasra Shater since 2021, and other cases that have been subjected to enforced disappearance and torture. The organization considered that this behavior poses a serious threat to the freedom of citizens and a serious violation of human rights.

    The SAM Organization called on the security authorities in Marib Governorate to immediately release those arbitrarily detained, to stop the practice of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearance and torture, and to prosecute judicially the security officials involved in the ill-treatment.

    Tawfiq Al-Hamidi, the head of the SAM Organization, said that "the war in Yemen and the state of security doubt do not in any way justify the arbitrary arrest and torture practiced by the security services in Marib. The security services must review their policies to be consistent with their commitment to applying the rules of human rights and the protection stipulated for them, in addition to respecting the freedom of civilians. Otherwise, these authorities will be subject to legal prosecution."

    Since the beginning of the war, the "Sam" organization has documented many cases of arbitrary arrests by the authorities in Marib, including violations against journalists and human rights activists. Some of these violations have led to the death of some victims in the prisons of the Political Security in Marib. These practices continue to be a source of concern for the residents who do not know the fate of their children. The Sam organization points out that some of them complain that these arrests are made at security checkpoints merely on suspicion, as well as the arrest of some activists from their homes for expressing opinions on controversial religious issues. These arbitrary arrests are largely carried out without the supervision of the judicial authorities.

    The legitimate government has made the city of Marib a political and military center since the Houthi group took control of the capital Sanaa on September 21, 2014. The local authority oversees the security, including the detention centers in the city of Marib and the areas under its control. With the presence of this authority, thousands of opponents of the Houthi group, including politicians and military personnel who fled the Houthi practices, have sought refuge in Marib.

    The SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties has documented many cases of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances by the security authorities in Marib Governorate. Human rights activists say there are complications in following up on the detainees due to the dominance of the Political Security apparatus and its taking charge of the arbitrary arrests outside the supervision of the judicial and security authorities.

    The Political Security apparatus is a security agency that reports directly to the Presidency, established by law. It is responsible for investigating security cases that pose a general threat to state security.

    In January 2024, the President of the Presidential Leadership Council issued Decision No. (5) of 2024, which merged several security agencies, including the Political Security apparatus, into a new entity called the "Central State Security Agency". The new agency is tasked with carrying out its duties as stipulated in the decision, "without prejudice to the principle of political pluralism, public freedoms, human rights, and in a manner that does not conflict with the provisions of the Constitution and applicable laws."

    Many detainees are being held in detention facilities belonging to the Political Security or Criminal Investigation agencies in the city of Marab. According to the testimonies of prisoners, these facilities are described as "underground dungeons" consisting of two extremely cramped rooms, each measuring no more than 3.5 meters square. Around 21 detainees are crammed into each of these rooms, which are dark cells with only a tiny ventilation opening at the top that allows in little light.

    Furthermore, the cells are characterized by filth and extreme cold due to the lack of sufficient blankets, as well as an abundance of insects and lice. Given these conditions, the prisoners are unable to sleep due to the itching on their bodies and the emanating odors.

    According to former detainees, "a detainee's eyes are covered during interrogation, handcuffed and beaten all over his body, with sticks and sometimes with electrical wires. There is also a place called "grill" in which an iron bowl is placed below the knee and an iron chain to the handcuffs extending to the ceiling, and then the victim is lifted to the top or the chair is turned over if he is sitting on it to intensify the pain, and a 20-liter water bottle is placed over the victim's body, in addition to electrocution, until he confesses to fabricated charges.

    According to international law, arbitrary detention occurs when someone is deprived of their liberty, whether during times of war or peace. On the other hand, enforced disappearance occurs when individuals are held by authorities, followed by a refusal to acknowledge their fate and whereabouts. Disappeared persons often face the risk of torture and ill-treatment, especially when they are held in unofficial locations.

    Forms of Arrests

    Mohammed Ayyash, 43 years old

    On Monday, September 4, 2023, a car carrying armed soldiers affiliated with the security forces in Marib arrived at the residence of the journalist "Ayash," who was the media officer at the Specialized Hospital for Ophthalmology and Eye Surgery in Marib, and the director of a radio station under preparation called "Sah FM," located in Al-Jufaina camp in the city of Marib. The soldiers ordered Ali Ayash to go to the "Al-Madina" police station, claiming that there was a complaint against him. Ayash went to the police station, after which he was forcibly disappeared for approximately 3 months. None of his relatives knew his whereabouts, and he was not allowed any visits whatsoever. After this period, his family obtained information about his location in the "Political Security Apparatus in Marib," but his family was prevented from visiting him until he was released on Saturday, January 13, 2024, prior to being presented to the judicial authorities.

    It is believed that the arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of the journalist "Ayash" were triggered by a post on social media criticizing his director at the hospital, Dr. Ahmed Saeed Nasser, and highlighting administrative corruption within the hospital. This information was stated in a testimony published on the page of Colonel "Ali Saleh Al-Maamari," the Assistant Director of Police for Security Affairs in Marib, which confirms that the journalist has been hidden since his arrest until December 25, 2023.

    According to a statement from one of the journalist's relatives, "Sam," journalist "Mohammed Al-Ayashi" was arrested and forcibly disappeared since September 4, 2023, by the security forces under the guidance and supervision of Colonel "Ali Saleh Al-Maamari," the Assistant Director of Police for Security Affairs. The sources that spoke to the organization's team reported the practice of physical torture.


    The information obtained by Sam from Ayash's relatives, which Ayash himself confirmed after his release, indicates that since his arrest, he was completely hidden, false charges were fabricated against him, and he was transferred to the Political Security Prison. Despite the prosecution issuing multiple directives to the relevant authorities, the security forces refused to transfer him to the public prosecution.

    The practices inflicted on the victim had a negative impact on his mother, as he is her only son. Throughout his disappearance, she remained in their house in Al-Jufaina, and her health deteriorated significantly. She is in a critical condition and lacks the necessary medical care. Despite appeals made through social media, no assistance or financial support has been received. This is the account provided by the victim's relatives.

    Bassam Al-Sheikh, 35 years old

    Bassam Saleh Al-Sheikh, a 35-year-old teacher in Sana'a, was arrested on June 5, 2023, by the Political Security Apparatus in Marib while he was going to obtain a passport. According to a statement from one of his relatives to the organization "Sam," it was confirmed that Al-Sheikh was "arrested from the house of one of the residents in the area where he was staying in Marib. He was preparing to travel to Saudi Arabia before being arrested in the late hours of the night by two civilians on a motorcycle who entered the house and took him to an unknown location. After searching for several days, it was revealed that he is detained in the Political Security Apparatus." The relative further added, "The prosecution has been notified, and they issued a memorandum to the Political Security Apparatus to inquire about his condition and allow him only to receive visits. Indeed, one of his relatives was allowed to visit him. When we asked about the reason for his arrest, they told us they wanted to discipline him. Is it reasonable for him to remain detained for eight months just for disciplinary purposes?" questioned the victim's relative.

    Mubarak Ahmed Al-Nashm

    On the evening of September 5, 2023, after 8:30 PM, citizen "Mubarak Al-Nashm" was arrested from Al-Maamari's house without presenting an arrest warrant or following any legal procedures as stipulated in the Yemeni law. The victim stated to the organization's team: "The interrogation continued with me until 2:30 AM, after which I was placed in the pretrial detention in Marib. I was forcibly imprisoned and hidden in the Criminal Investigation Prison, with no permission to communicate or allow anyone from my neighborhood or my wife to visit me, which has put my family in a terrifying psychological state as they have no relatives here in Marib." The victim further added, "I was interrogated at Al-Maamari's house, a clear violation of the law, and I was subjected to verbal threats during the interrogation. After confiscating my phone and computer and imprisoning me, I was released temporarily due to pressure. Then, (Waseem Al-Aqra) summoned me to his house, and when I arrived, I found his associates, his children, and other people who were threatening me by recounting stories of their violence and their disregard for the law."

    "Mubarak Al-Nashm" confirmed the following in his testimony: "Waseem Al-Aqra and Amin Al-Abi took me to the Criminal Investigation Administration building, and Waseem interrogated me for five hours while I was standing on one foot, with my hands raised and my eyes closed. He used abusive and insulting language that a security officer should not use, in clear violation of the law. Then he took a phone that I had purchased, and I was placed in pretrial detention. After a while, I was taken out of pretrial detention to the Investigation Administration with my eyes closed and my hands bound. I was interrogated, and even the aforementioned person, "Ali Al-Maamari," tortured me sadistically along with his associates and the aforementioned individuals. He exerted pressure on me to confess, apologize, and make commitments, even though I had done nothing except demand my rights after being arbitrarily dismissed by the hospital director and his staff, who are associates of "Ali Al-Maamari." The reason for this was that after my dismissal from the hospital, false posts were circulated from a fake account accusing me of being the owner of the account."

    He further added, "The Criminal Investigation Department in Marib refused to comply with the prosecution's order to transfer the case to them. Instead, I was transferred to the Political Security, where I was subjected to torture for hours. I was slapped, punched, hands were raised and struck all over my body. Additionally, I was beaten with sticks, suspended on bean cans in a method they call 'the grill,' and kicked with their military boots inside the detention facility. These acts made it difficult for me to sit for long periods, and I suffered from hemorrhoids intermittently."

    And he added, "My beard was shaved by the order of Ali Al-Maamari. His men shaved it twice, then they searched for a razor and shaved my beard in a disfiguring manner. Then I was filmed, and I don't know who they brought from their friends in the hospital administration to witness this sadistic torture session that I never expected to happen to me or anyone else in the province of Marib, where I sought refuge."

    According to the victim, Al-Nashm, he reached out to Sheikh Sultan Al-Arada, a member of the Presidential Council, who then detained him and transferred him for investigation. However, he was not referred to the judiciary despite being interrogated by a committee affiliated with the Security Administration in Marib.

    The victim further adds, "After nearly two weeks of being detained in the Political Security, and after they confirmed that there was no justification for my presence with them, I was released. However, when I came out, I found my family in extreme fear due to the situation. My children couldn't even recognize me because of my shaved beard. We still live in terror of the influence of Al-Maamari and the hospital administration. In every direction we move, we fear repercussions. We have even chosen not to file cases against them due to financial constraints and other reasons."

    Yusra Shater

    Yusra Mohammed Shatir, 38 years old, has been detained by the Political Security apparatus in Marib since September 24, 2022. She was arrested from Al-Ashtar Hotel in the city of Marib while working on a vaccination campaign against Covid-19 with the World Health Organization (WHO), under official assignment. Yusra has faced restrictions, denial of visits, and a lack of provision for her needs, especially as a woman. She was transferred to the Central Security three and a half months ago, where the Public Prosecutor's Office decided to release her on bail, according to her family's statement to a team from the SAM organization.

    The organization reviewed an order from the Health Office in Aden Governorate, which included the assignment of supervisors for a vaccination campaign against Covid-19 on September 19. Another disclosure from the World Health Organization listed the names of participants, including Yusra Shatir, identified as number 16.

    One of Yusra Shatir's relatives told SAM, "We have tired ourselves with their endless lies. No matter how hard we try, Hanchel, the security official in Marib, will not respond, as he conditions her release on an exchange."

    The organization confirms that the testimonies it has heard from the victims themselves and the statements of some of their relatives have shown a serious violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by Yemeni law, especially the Code of Criminal Procedure. It also reflects a concerning and inexplicable behavior by the authorities in Marib, who persist in pursuing individuals without any legal justification.

    Marib Security

    SAM sent a message to the Security Administration in Marib Governorate on February 18, 2024, via WhatsApp. The message was received by the Director's Office and included some questions and inquiries regarding certain incidents mentioned in the report. SAM requested a response by February 25 of the same month, emphasizing that the authorities' response would be included in their report. Initially, the security authorities expressed understanding and cooperation, requesting more time than what was specified by the organization to respond to the message. The organization agreed to the extension but the authorities did not adhere to the agreed-upon timeframe. SAM received a message from the Director's Office of the Security Director, confirming that the administration's final response to SAM's message would be on March 5, at 9:00 PM. Unfortunately, the organization did not receive any response.

    In mid-2022, the Military Police in Marib arrested activist "Man'aa Suleiman," 36 years old, on June 18, 2022. They were detained under the pretext of insulting the Companions of the Prophet and religious beliefs. However, the activist's relatives confirmed, during their communication with SAM, that this accusation is untrue and that the actions of the Military Police were based on political directives due to Suleiman's activities on social media platforms.

    Activist "Hafez Muteer" was also arrested on July 11, 2023, due to his journalistic writings and expression of his opinions on social media platforms. However, the Public Relations and Moral Guidance Administration of the Marib Police claimed in a statement on Facebook that it had no involvement, nor did the local authority in the governorate, in the arrest of activist "Hafez Muteer." They stated that his detention was based on pending cases with the Military Prosecution, as he was an officer in the Yemeni Armed Forces. He was later released by court order on September 27, 2023.

    SAM refers to the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Yemen and the existing laws, which prohibit arbitrary arrests. This includes Article 48 of the Constitution, which states: "The state guarantees the personal freedom of citizens, preserves their dignity and security. The law defines the cases in which the freedom of citizens may be restricted, and the freedom of any individual may not be restricted except by a ruling from a competent court." The Code of Criminal Procedure further emphasizes this in Article 7/1, stating that "arrests are not permitted except in relation to acts punishable by law, and they must be based on the law." This is reiterated in Article 11 of the same law, which confirms that "freedom is guaranteed, and a citizen cannot be accused of committing a crime or have their freedom restricted except by the order of competent authorities in accordance with the provisions of this law."

    The organization concluded its statement by expressing its strong condemnation of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances, particularly concerning the arrests of "Al-Ayashi," "Mubarak Al-Nashm," and "Yasra Qaid." It called for the release of detained individual "Bassam Al-Sheikh," emphasizing that the authorities in Marib bear full responsibility for his life and the lives of dozens of arbitrarily detained individuals. It further highlighted the opacity of their conditions within the prisons and the denial of family visits for some of them.

    The organization urged the authorities in Marib to release the detainees, emphasizing the importance of ensuring the cessation of all forms of persecution and threats against individuals. It called for enabling them to enjoy their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Yemeni Constitution and laws without any intimidation or infringement.

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