SAM for Rights and Liberties has released an investigative report on Sunday as part of their international campaign "No Justice” aimed at drawing attention to the issues of political prisoners and those detained for expressing their opinions.
The report covers human rights violations related to the right to a fair trial, committed by various warring parties in Yemen, with the most prominent being the Houthi movement. The report covers the period from January 2017 to December 2022, which the organization believes saw the worst human rights violations regarding the denial of the right to a fair trial.
SAM for Rights and Liberties declared that the report entitled "No Justice" followed a three-month investigation. The report focuses on 34 cases involving political prisoners or individuals detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression in Sana’a (24), Aden (6), Hadramout (2), Marib, and the western coast (2). The victims come from various affiliations, including 15 from the Islah Party, 6 from the General People's Congress Party, 5 journalists, 5 soldiers, 2 women, and 2 from the Jewish community and the Salafi movement. 20 of the prisoners underwent trial and received sentences, while 8 trials are still ongoing, 5 were released without trial, and the fate of one prisoner remains unknown.
The investigation also highlights the harsh detention conditions during the period from 2017 to the end of 2022. All the victims who have faced trial have received inhumane treatment. 24 prisoners in Houthi prisons were subjected to secret and brutal detention for periods of up to eight months before their fate was revealed. They were subjected to electric shock, beating, simulated execution, deprivation of sleep and communication with the outside world. In addition, their health, food and hydration services were severely limited, resulting in their health deterioration and the death of one of the prisoners due to inadequate care.
The investigation, which was based on testimonies, confirmed that (7) detainees in the prisons of the Southern Transitional Council and the Joint Forces and (3) detainees held by the Yemeni government were subjected to harsh treatment by beatings, hanging on walls, racial discrimination, and deprivation of communication with the outside world for periods of up to ten months.
The investigative report revealed that the Al-Houthi group was the most prominent among the actors involved. They were found to have ruled over 24 individuals in courts under their jurisdiction, followed by the Southern Transitional Council with 6 suspects who were arrested and presented for trial. The recognized Yemeni government also conducted trials for 3 detainees and one activist who was arrested by the joint forces.
The report issued by SAM concluded that the parties used the judiciary - to varying degrees - to take revenge on political opponents and/or perceived adversaries and made their institutions a platform for abducting and harming opponents. This became a new method in the light of the strategy adopted by these parties to force the Yemenis by force and suppress any activities within the political and civil framework. The report also concluded that the trials carried out by the parties against the victims ignored the principle of presumed innocence and the coercion of the detainees into confessing.
The report argues that the death sentences issued by the Al-Houthi courts were carried out with limited procedures, lacking the minimum standards of fair trial applied in armed conflicts and/or normal circumstances. It is considered that the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council failed to comply with fair trial standards before or during the trial.
The report sees that the confidence of the various parties in escaping punishment, the complete absence of international criminal investigation mechanisms, and the weakness of local prosecution mechanisms, have greatly contributed to their invention of means of retaliation and harm to opponents. This includes the use of the judiciary as a means of abusive deprivation of the right to life and freedom.
The report stated that the Yemeni legal framework contributed to encouraging the parties to commit these violations by intensifying the death penalty for many actions, many of which stem from the right to freedom of expression. It calls on the Al-Houthi movement and other parties to suspend the death penalty for detainees in cases related to the conflict.
This investigative report is the first in Yemen to shed light on political trials and detention conditions. It provides information on political interventions in the work of law enforcement agencies. The report aims to reveal the impact of these violations on the reality of political freedoms and the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
This investigative report contributes to uncovering the truth in Yemen and preserving the memories of generations. It aims to draw the attention of international public opinion to the fate of dozens of political prisoners facing the death penalty and the deprivation of their right to freedom, in order to exert pressure for their rescue and halt the trials that lack minimum standards of fair and impartial proceedings.