Geneva - SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said that the administration of Al-Munawwarah Prison in the city of Mukalla in Hadramout Governorate, southern Yemen, refuses to implement the judicial authorities’ order to release dozens of detainees for years after the issuance of the verdict that acquitted them, which prompted the detainees to start a hunger strike since September 6 in order to draw the world’s attention to their case. The organization called on the authorities and the Public Prosecution Office to assume their responsibilities and implement the ruling of releasing the detainees without conditions.
The organization said that what the striking detainees are subjected to is a violation of human rights and a form of arbitrary and illegal detention practiced by the administration of Munawarah prison with some of the entities affiliated with the UAE, which the prison administration follows, according to their response to some detainees' families.
The organization said in a statement issued today, Monday, that the prison administration's refusal to implement judicial orders constitutes a disregard for the judicial institution. It also reveals its inability to protect human rights and the victory of the legal rights of victims after spending long periods in detention and the issuance of court verdicts acquitting them, some of which were issued 3 years ago.
For his part, Tawfiq Al-Hamidi, President of SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties, said: “What we are monitoring regarding the mass hunger strike announced by dozens of detainees in the prisons of Mukalla is a serious development that obliges the international community to intervene immediately without waiting for any political or international efforts as the lives of dozens of detainees are in real danger and delaying the intervention process will hold the international community responsible for what may happen if the detainees' protests develop.”
Al-Hamidi added in his statement, “The practices of the internationally recognized government are reprehensible. Instead of the authorities being the party that helps protect the rights of civilians in light of the difficult political, economic and social conditions they suffer from, we find out that it deepens these violations with its illegal and immoral practices towards detainees inside prisons.”
"SAM" stated that it had received dozens of appeals from the detainees' families stating that their relatives deserved immediate release three years ago under orders issued by the Specialized Court after their trial and their innocence of the charges against them, and the unjustified intransigence of the security and prosecution authorities in not releasing them. The families expressed their fear and concern for the lives of their relatives in case the hunger strike continues in light of the difficult humanitarian conditions they suffer in prison.
The brother of one of the detainees told the team of “SAM’, “My brother has been in prison for 7 years without any justification. He is now in Mukalla Central Prison, which is under the indirect supervision of the Emirati forces stationed at Al Rayyan Airport. The Court of First Instance acquitted my brother, and then the Public Prosecution appealed the initial ruling, and the Court of Appeal confirmed the initial verdict of acquittal. After that, we took the release procedures and brought a commercial guarantee and they gave us the release order. The Public Prosecution took the release order to the director of the prison, which is indirectly controlled by the UAE forces. After the prison director received the release order, he said: “I cannot help with this issue. Go to the head of security! Then we went to the head of security and met him and offered him the release order. After an argument with him, he said that he couldn’t help us and the only one who could help is the one in Al Rayyan i.e., the Emiratis, and each side, so each side just put the blame on the other without any justifications.”
He added, "During my visit to my brother a few days ago, I heard about three prisoners attempting to commit suicide after the prosecution refused to release them while their judgements of acquittal were issued two years ago, let alone the deteriorating conditions inside prisons. When a prisoner falls ill, they take him to the hospital at his own expense and the prisoner's family loses huge sums of money for treatment. When I visited my brother, I learned that there was a prisoner named (Uncle Ayesh) whose release order was issued two years ago. He is from Al-Hodeidah Governorate, and while his family was trying to visit him after long intransigence, the family members died on their way to Mukalla in an accident. The prison is full of difficult human stories and there is no action taken by the responsible authorities to this moment.”
In another testimony, one of the relatives of the detainees who are on hunger strike said: "We learned that the detainees in Al-Munawarah Prison started a hunger strike after the prison administration repeatedly ignored the detainees' demands as they did not respond to any of the demands. Instead, the prison administration threatened the detainees with severe repression for those who engage in chaos or strike." He added, "The detainees' demands are clear, and they are to release them without any intransigence, as many of them have had a release order for two years or more. I also learned that Emirati individuals sat with some prisoners and told them that your release is controlled by us and no one can release any of you without our full consent.”
He concluded his testimony by saying, "A prisoner named Amr al-Hadi from Sana’a committed suicide three days ago and was taken to the hospital, and no one knows his fate so far, whether he died or not, as he fatally injured himself with sharp blades when he tried to cut his vein."
The brother of the detainee, Ali Al-Mansoori, said in his testimony: The Court of First Instance has acquitted my brother. Then the Public Prosecution has appealed the preliminary ruling, and the Court of Appeal has issued its support for the preliminary ruling that had ruled the innocence of my brother. Then we brought a commercial guarantee although legally the accused is released without guarantee after the appeal ruling, which ruled that he was innocent of any charge. After we brought a commercial guarantee, they gave us the release order and so far, he has not been released. The last thing we did, we brought a release order other than the order we got from the Public Prosecutor personally, as the Public Prosecutor issued an order to release my brother and we gave it to the head of the criminal prosecution, but he told us he couldn’t do anything for us.”
The organization highlighted in its statement a number of names of people whose relatives it met and reviewed the release orders issued for them, but to no avail since the Public Prosecution continuously refuses to release them. Some of these detainees are:
"SAM" stresses that the Public Prosecution's delay in releasing the detainees shows unjustified intransigence, warning that the Public Prosecution's behaviour has strayed from its role in implementing and establishing the rules of law to participating in further violations of the rights of civilians. The organization highlighted that the torture and procrastination of the detainees in their release, in addition to their announcement of a hunger strike, holds the parties responsible for not implementing the release decision issued by the Criminal Court fully responsible and accountable in case the lives of those detainees or some of them deteriorate.
“SAM” concluded its statement by calling on the authorities in Hadhramaut to legalize the release of detainees and work to bring violators who refused to implement the decisions of the judicial authorities to legal accountability, and to compensate the detainees for the period they spent in prison illegally. “SAM” also that the international community's negative attitude and continued silence constituted an implicit cover for the parties to the conflict in Yemen to perpetuate their violations against civilians.
Attached are the names of the detainees whose release orders have been issued while the prosecution is still reluctant to release them: