SAM Organization: The UAE and Saudi Arabia Supervise the Arrest and Torture of Dozens of Yemenis SAM
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Documented the Extrajudicial Execution of a Plumber
SAM Organization: The UAE and Saudi Arabia Supervise the Arrest and Torture of Dozens of Yemenis

  
  
  
    
25/09/2020

(Geneva) - SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said today that the Yemeni security forces affiliated with the legitimate government in Hadramout governorate have arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared dozens of civilians under the supervision of the Arab coalition "the Emirates and Saudi Arabia" for more than four years.

The organization confirmed that the UAE and Saudi Arabia supervise the torture of dozens of civilians who were arrested during security operations under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda in Hadramout governorate. The detainees had been transferred to Mukalla Central Prison "Al Munawarah" pending their trial, but they were not brought to court, while the families of some detainees reported that their relatives were transferred to Dhahban Prison in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

SAM Organization documented more than 15 cases, including two children, who were arbitrarily detained and/or enforced disappearance in the city of Sayoun during the year 2016, after military units of the First District forces supported by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia arrested and detained them in Al-Teen prison in Sayoun before transfer them to Mukalla prison.

Tawfiq Al-Humeidi, head of the SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, said that “arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture is an unacceptable crime and cannot be accepted even with justifications of fighting terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, without guaranteeing any rights for detainees such as visitation, health and medical care, and most importantly, a fair trial that guarantees the application of the law and provides protection and stability in Yemen.”

The organization contacted many detainees' relatives, some human rights activists, and former detainees, to clarify many of the details about these detention centers, and the organization was forced to use pseudonyms and withhold the details of the identities of those who spoke to it, for their safety.

 

Restoring the City from the Extremists

On April 25, 2016, the Hadhrami Elite Forces, backed by the United Arab Emirates, regained the city of Al-Mukalla from al-Qaeda elements that took control of it in April 2015, and plundered the Central Bank and collected revenues from different entities, including the port.

After Al-Mukalla was retaken, military forces from the First District, under Saudi supervision, carried out arrests and raids in which they used excessive force, arrested relatives of suspects to pressure them to "willingly" surrender, arbitrarily detained men and youth, and detained children with adults. One former detainee said: “We are treated like sheep; we have no dignity. We are subjected to insults, beatings, solitary confinement, and electrocution and spraying with very cold water in the winter.”

Former detainees and families of detainees told SAM that their detained relatives were subjected to abuse and torture inside the detention centers, often by severe beatings with iron wires and sticks, and forcing them to flip flops until they throw up. One of them said: “Our sons are insulted, abused, and humiliated.”

 

A Network of Secret Detention Centers

On November 16, 2018, SAM Organization stated Al-Teen detention center, which is under the supervision of the Saudi forces, and documented the exposure of many detainees to torture after arbitrary detention. The Group of Eminent Experts also documented many violations and described Al-Teen detention of a "small secret facility" located south of Sayoun city within the headquarters of the Yemeni Armed Forces in the First Military District, located 50 meters to the east of the largest military prison, which is also located inside the headquarters of the First Military District.

Al-Teen prison was in the past an old prison before it was abandoned in 2006 in favor of the military prison in 2016, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia re-established the prison and a wall was built separating it from the military prison. These facilities are located in the northern part of Hadramout governorate, and the Yemeni armed forces of the first military district arrested all detainees in Al-Teen prison. Some of the detainees were transferred to it from Al-Katan Military Base of the Yemeni Armed Forces, which is located 45 km west of Sayoun. The guards in both facilities are military police from the first military district.”

 

Parties Responsible for Torture

According to the testimonies documented by SAM Organization, the officials responsible for the interrogation and torture are Saudi and Yemeni intelligence officers, working under Saudi supervision. Some of the names identified are: a Saudi officer called “Al-Khalidi” and another called “Badr Al-Otaibi,” as well as an officer named “Abu Nawwaf”, and the prison director is Abdo Al-Marri of Yemeni nationality.

The testimonies confirm that Saudi officers have the authority to decide on the arrest and release.

A 29-year-old young man, Labib, said that forces belonging to the First Military District in Sayoun arrested his brother three years ago, then transferred him to al-Munawara Prison in Mukalla two years ago. He added that the visit is very rare, on holidays and occasions, “My brother was subjected to torture inside al-Munawara prison in Mukalla and before that in Al-Teen prison, and exposed to forms of torture including spraying with water and ice, beating severely to the point of fainting, and hanging for long hours, while the judicial authorities do not respond to the families. under the pretext that the matter is not in their hands and that it is in the hands of the Emirati forces in Al-Rayyan.” He added: “We went to the Emiratis and they said the matter to the prosecution”, "They are just tampering with us, years pass by, and our sons are languishing in prisons without trials, and on top of that they are subjected to the most horrific forms of torture."

 

Murdering the Plumber and Prevent Autopsy

Saeed Awad Mansour Mabrouk Munibari, nicknamed the Chinese, 34 years, from Houtat Ahmed bin Zain, Shibam, Hadramout, married with two sons, Saeed was liquidated by the forces loyal of the Coalition.

Saeed Awad works in plumbing. SAM monitors obtained various testimonies, confirming that Saeed was arrested in July 2019, after a person called Al-Azraq called him for a job in Bhaira, so the victim went to a shop selling plumbing tools to purchase needed materials, then gunmen came in a civilian car, they were wearing military pants, and the rest of the clothes were civilian. They took Saeed and told the shop owner and those present at the place to stay in their place, pulling guns at them.

One of the witnesses, said to SAM, that Saeed's family kept looking for him for three days in Hadramout hospitals until they found him in Sayoun Hospital. The witness said that the security officer asked them to find Saeed’s body in the hospital’s morgue, and they told them in the hospital that the body had arrived at 5:45 p.m. In the evening, one of the witnesses said that the gunmen took Saeed at 5:30 in the evening, and his father found that it took "15 minutes" to reach Sayoun Hospital, which means that they killed him on the way, and his father added: “They told us in the hospital that the Terrorism Combat forces brought the body of my son, but they did not determine who is the commander? »

According to testimonies, by witnesses and Saeed’s relatives, the Zara Terrorism Combat forces killed Saeed supervised by Saudi Arabia, and the family did not obtain permission to bury, which prompted his family to go to the criminal investigation in Sayoun to find out the reason. One of his relatives said: “They told us that he is a terrorist, so we said “even if he was a criminal, bring him to trial, not simply kill him” he added: “ The Criminal Investigation commander is Hassan Musharraf, he said: I have an instruction from the police director in Al-Wadi and Al-Sahra, (Al-Awbathani) to take him to the morgue.”

Awad took the body of his son from the morgue, fifteen days after he was murdered after he obtained an order from the Criminal Prosecution Office for burial, and another order for an autopsy, but the CID refused to do the autopsy and told him to take his son without an autopsy, otherwise, they may go, so the family was forced to receive the body without an autopsy, obtained death certificate and buried him in Al-Harrah cemetery in Al-Houta.

Awad said that he did not know who ordered or killed his son, all he knew is that they belong to the Anti-terrorism force, but he did not know whether these forces belonged to Saudi Arabia or the government, because the CID did not give him any details.

SAM believes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the military forces supervised by the Saudi forces have committed an extrajudicial execution by killing Saeed Awad, which entails criminal responsibility, as the arbitrary deprivation of life is strictly prohibited under international human rights law when an extrajudicial killing is carried out by representatives of the authorities controlling a region, whose job is to enforce the law, so, such acts amount to extrajudicial execution, under international humanitarian law and in the context of armed conflict - when one of the parties to the conflict intentionally kills a person not directly involved in the hostilities or a person who has stopped fighting, this constitutes intentional killing or - in the case of a non-international conflict - a murder. Murder is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and thus a war crime that may lead to individual criminal responsibility. (1) Paragraph 200, page 64, Report of the Group of Eminent Experts, 3 September 2019

 

Wael and his Brothers

 In 2016, Wael's brother was wanted by the security forces on charges of affiliating with Al-Qaeda, and forces raided their house to arrest his brother, but he was not at home, so they took Wael, two of his brothers, and his brother's wife as hostages. They threatened his wife with filming her, and a security man pulled a gun at the baby's head and threaten her if she does not tell them where her husband is.

Wael told SAM: "After nearly 40 days, my older brother was released, but they re-arrested him again, and he is still detained without charge and an investigation, on the grounds of security precautions." He added, "Although the authorities managed to arrest our wanted brother two months after our arrest, they did not release me and the others, who were taken hostage, until 11 months after our arrest."

Wael confirmed that he and his two brothers were subjected to cruel and degrading treatment, and systematic psychological torture, in addition to the theft of their money after contacting their families asking for money behind their back, when they were in prison, and he said: “They used to take us blindfolded, and tell us that a death sentence was issued against us, made us live under fear and horror, then they return us to the cell.”

 

The beating of Young Detainees

Faraj Bakhit Al-Zubaidi said that his son, Sami, was arrested four years ago, when he was 16 years old, by military forces belonging to the first military district supervised by Saudi Arabia, and he confirmed that his son was severely beaten with iron wires and sticks in addition to insults, and submerged him in cold water in the winter.

In March 2015, the two children, Sultan Ghaleb Omar Ali bin Ali Jaber, 18, and Abdullah Wael Omar Ali bin Ali, were arrested. Sultan was 16 years old when he was arrested, while Abdullah was 17. One of their relatives told SAM that they suffer in the detention center from a psychological disorder. Sultan and Abdullah complained of iron handcuffs that did not leave their feet, in addition to being severely beaten and electrocuted.

On visitation, and health condition, SAM said that they had received many complaints from the families of the detainees, stating that they were denied visitation except after hard suffering and constant follow-ups with the First Military Division and the Security Committee.

 

Transport outside Yemen

SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties has documented the transfer of Saudi forces to some detainees in Al-Teen prison to Al-Mukalla Central Prison and then transferred them to Kingdom prisons, specifically to “Dhahban” prison, according to the testimonies of former detainees.

 On the first of September 2017, Shaker bin Hamel, 57, from the city of Sayoun, Hadramout was arrested by Yemeni forces and under Saudi supervision, and after he was imprisoned in Al-Teen prison, Hamel was severely tortured along with the rest of the detainees. Hamel, according to the assurances of his family, suffers from many diseases in the urinary tract, as he suffers from seizures sometimes resulting in the intoxicating of his body, and because of that, he suffers from tumors in his foot.

Last visit to Shaker bin Hamel was in December 2018 in Sayoun, and after that nobody heard of him, or his whereabouts and his family follow up with concerned authorities, but in vain, and according to the testimony of one of those who were with him in detention, they parted in Sayoun airport in 2019, and that according to what he heard, "he was transferred with others to Dhahban prison in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

The organization received information that he was being brought back to Yemen. It is worth noting that the Bin Hamel investigation file is ready for the Mukalla Prosecution office for his trial, while his family is calling for justice and his release.

 

Al Munawara Prison detainees

In 2018, the local authorities transferred the detainees of al-Teen prison to the Central Prison in Mukalla, to bring them before the Public Prosecution, and then trial.

The brother of one of the detainees in Mukalla Central Prison “Al Munawara” said that his brother was arrested on September 27, 2018, by the Hadhrami Elite without any order from the prosecution, he was forcibly disappeared for a year without knowing his whereabouts. He was severely tortured, excruciating electrocuted and flogged, hanged, and sprayed with old water and ice.” He added: “We followed the judicial authorities, but without a response from the security forces, and after continuous follow-ups, they were allowed to visit him from behind iron fences for ten minutes and once a month.” According to the interviews that SAM conducted with the relatives of one of the detainees, “in recent months the visit was prohibited for everyone under the pretext of Corona and the family were not allowed to visit” He indicated that until now the chief of the Penal Court had not received the files on the pretext that he had demands with the state, but he promised after Eid al-Adha that he would decide on them.

Al-Mukalla Central Prison, previously known as "Al-Munawara", is located in the Jawal Al-Shifa area in Deis Al-Mukalla, and it consists of five buildings, two of which are known as the General Prison, accommodating the General Administration building, and it contains the basement in which torture, investigation and confessions procedures are carried out by force, and a drug building, a building for political cases a building for women, and in the political cases there are very small cells, and torture rooms, unlike the rest of the buildings. The torture is supervised by the prison director, colonel Ali Bazubeidi, and Haitham Bargash, assistant director, who is a link with the Rabwah camp, which is supervised by Emirati officers.

At the visit site, there are two iron fences of one and a half meters between the prisoner and his family.

There is also the “conjugal visits” building, which is currently considered the prison health center and is equipped with modern equipment where security personnel and detainees who are not intended to be shown to the public, as well as the general prison population, are treated.

Recently, a new prison was established, similar in shape and size to the large prison (general), and it was opened recently. Most of the detainees in Al-Munawarah Prison were transferred from Al-Rayyan, Al-Qasr, Al-Rabwa, or al-Teen detention centers, as a form of disclaimer by the Coalition to the authority, ostensibly, but "in the backstage is the UAE, who is actually in charge", as one of the detainees says, where an Emirati officer who is responsible for the prison and the decisions issued to release, interrogate and torture. The officer is called “Al-Kaabi,” a young man in his thirties, and another officer called Al-Kalbi, who is directly responsible for torture, especially in Al-Rayyan Detention Center.

 

Activists and former detainees described the torture in "Al Munawara" prison as cruel, although it is less severe than in Al-Rayyan, Al-Qasr, and Al-Rabwa detention centers. Detainees are subjected to multiple penalties such as solitary confinement, the detainee remains for days standing and handcuffed with beatings, in addition to hanging by hands on the ceiling and tightening them so that the detainee stands on his toes, and placing an ice block on the head of the detainee in cold days, in addition to denying visits, calls and other rights like exposure to the sun.

Among the forms of torture in Al-Munawarah Prison: raiding the detainees’ rooms, using live bullets and wounding several prisoners, as well as placing prisoners in the detention yard for 12 hours, semi-naked and tied together without allowing them to go to the restroom, pray or eat, in the cold nights and sunny days. Also, placed them in the basement for 12 days, each two of them handcuffed, and blindfolded.

 One of the former detainees says: “They beat us until they flayed the skin off, and when you say “praise be to God or mention God’s name, they were mad. On the first night, three Emiratis beat me in the face, the hand of one in them was like my leg and they only heard from me, saying “praise be to God”, for about twenty minutes, I didn’t feel the pain, although my ears kept bleeding for about twenty days, they were mad at me and said, “Who are you to challenge the Coalition and the state.”

Saif said to SAM: “Yesterday I was visiting my brother and he told me to communicate with SAM organization, and likewise most of the prisoners requested to contact SAM and convey their suffering, and the detainees in the central prison in Mukalla and the torture they have been subjected to for more than a month, not to mention the torture they had previously suffered, which is beyond imagination, and they are still without trial for nearly two years”.

Thaer, one of the former detainees, said that at 10 am, on Monday in March 2018, he was surprised by a security force from the Hadhrami elite storming his workplace, and according to his testimony: “Four patrol vehicles armed with weapons, all the soldiers were masked. The soldiers pulled their guns at the customers and asked about me, I identified myself. Three of the soldiers approached me and threw me to the ground and kicked me with their feet while they uttered ugly words and insulted the Lord, then blindfolded me, I did not know where I am exactly, they beat me, severely, and put me inside container. Thaer added that he remained inside a container until late afternoon, and when he asked where he was, they responded by beating and insulting him.

Thaer confirmed that they put him in a room and he was surprised by someone he knew in the same room, and when he asked him about their whereabouts, he told him that he was in the Republican Palace in Foua, “name of a neighborhood in Hadramout” and after he was hit, they took him to an unknown place and brought him into a narrow room called “Infradyah”, Thaer says: “With a course of time I knew that it was Al-Rayyan Airport” and confirmed:“ While in Solitary confinement, I heard screams of people being interrogated and tortured, however, on the first night they did not reach me, they let me listen to the sounds of excruciating pain and screams”

On the second day Thaer was beaten with cables while an Emirati officer was investigating him, “Then they put my head down, and my feet up, and they were kicking my face with their feet. Then they stripped me of my clothes and put me on an ice block for about an hour, and they returned me to the cell at dawn, and after three days they took me for interrogation again, but this time it was more severe. There were electric shocks and beatings on the feet, and I lost one of my toes.”

After a while, Thaer and some of the detainees were transferred to Al-Munawarah Prison, and when the prisoners demanded their rights, a masked squad attacked them and fired live ammunition at the prisoners directly, and three of the prisoners were injured.

 

The “Pressure Cooker”

Saad, 22 years old, father of a child, turned himself into the security authorities in Sayoun city, after being pursued by the security forces on charges of al-Qaeda affiliation, they transferred him to the General Prison in the First Military district, he said to SAM. He told SAM that the inmates' number exceeds the capacity of the prison.

Saad said that they are being severely tortured by the Saudi officers, a person called Abu Nawwaf and his name is Bandar Al-Otaibi, and another called Abu Salem, and he confirmed that the Yemeni soldiers and those in charge of the prison are also not different from them, as they participated in the torture of the detainees, including a person named Al-Waeel, who is responsible and the supervisor of the prison that everyone suffers from, and another called Habib, and these are tasked with beating detainees even without reasons, according to Saad’s account.

Saad narrated that on one occasion he and five of the detainees went on strike, and they refused lunch because of bad food: “After that, I was accused of being an instigator, and on the same night I was taken out at night and threatened by the prison administration, they wanted me to turn around in the dirt as punishment; I refused. after that, a confrontation took place with the soldiers with hands in the presence of the director. He ordered them to throw me into the car designated for transporting prisoners, which is an armored "Dina" and very hot. This method of torture is used daily to harm prisoners. They left me in the cage till noon of the next day in the car without drinking water, then the director came and he placed handcuffs on my hands and feet, and they took me to the adjacent prison, which is the al-Teen prison. They immediately put me in a very narrow room called al-Daghatah the “Pressure Cooker”.

Saad confirmed that he did not see the sun for a month, and he mentioned that there are many inmates kept in the “Pressure Cooker” and there are detainees who are not allowed to visit for years, held in dark rooms, and they never go out, according to Saad: “few who can go out for certain hours in the yard, and if the prison door knocks, they flee in fear, according to the orders of the director and the prison supervisor, they flee as if they were a herd of sheep.”

 

A Complex Matter

After years of detention, the Mukalla Court issued a ruling acquitting 18 of the 69 detainees accused of belonging to an armed organization. The families of detainees, as well as former detainees, spoke to SAM Organization, many of whom had not been issued a decision or conviction ruling for two or three years, and some obtained a release decision from the Public Prosecutor without referring to the court and they remained in detention for long periods. All the families demand to stand trial and convict them if any charges are proven against them with valid legal evidence, not to remain three or four years without charges or even legal procedures, this is a crime.

SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said that the issue of detainees and forcibly disappeared persons are one of the most complicated issues caused by the war, as it resulted in deep political, psychological, and humanitarian scars on the families and victims. All parties practiced arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture against the detainees, and used it as a political card and bargaining chip for inhumane extortion. Therefore, they must immediately stop these violations, release all arbitrary detainees, and provide full information about the forcibly disappeared.

SAM said that not addressing the arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared person issue in the southern regions at any dialogue rounds makes their future unknown in light of the weakness of lobbying human rights organizations and judicial institutions, in return for the power and control of the Coalition forces and the forces operating under their supervision. Therefore, the international community and the UN envoy in the forefront, must prioritize the detainees’ issue in the southern regions as a humanitarian priority, and pressuring the controlling parties on the ground, including the Coalition and the legitimate government, to release all detainees, compensate them for the damage they suffered, and refer those implicated in criminal charges to the judiciary

The organization pointed out that international law requires the provision of basic protection for detainees in the civil war that all detainees enjoy in normal circumstances, including the rapid appearance of the detainee before an independent authority, such as a judge, and must be released as soon as the reasons for depriving him of his freedom ceases to exist, and all detainees should be treated humanely. Always, family visits must be allowed if it is possible under international humanitarian law, and the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment is one of the most important rules of international human rights and humanitarian law, as there are no exceptional circumstances that justify torture, and states must investigate cases of torture and prosecute those responsibly.”