Geneva - SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties stated that it is time for effective steps to be taken in order to ensure the protection of journalists and to bring those involved in violating their right to fair trials and work to implement the rules of international law which guarantee the protection of journalists in particular.
The organization expressed its deep concern about the escalation of violations committed by the various parties to the conflict against journalists and media workers inside Yemen in its statement which coincides with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2 of each year. “SAM” emphasized that these practices seriously violate the fundamental rights guaranteed by international law.
In a statement issued today, Wednesday, “SAM” called on the international community and relevant international organizations to urgently intervene and put pressure on all parties to the conflict, on top of which is the Houthi group, to stop their continuous violations against journalists in light of the alarming numbers that show a continuous escalation in those violations and to ensure that those involved are brought to criminal justice.
The organization pointed out in its statement that it has documented about 1,400 violations against journalists and media institutions since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen to this day. These violations vary between kidnappings, injuries, assaults, threats and targeting of media institutions, closing offices and blocking websites. However, the biggest threat is the killings and death sentences against journalists, referring to the four journalists sentenced to death by the Houthi group.
The organization pointed out that the Houthi group had kidnapped ten journalists in 2015 from their homes and workplaces, forcibly disappeared them, tortured them physically and psychologically for six years and subjected them to illegal trials on trumped-up charges that ended with the Houthi group’s criminal court in Sana’a issuing orders to execute a number of them in April 2020.
The verdict included a decision to execute four journalists, and to imprison the rest before the Houthi group released five of those journalists as part of the exchange agreement that was concluded between the Houthis and the Yemeni government under international auspices. The Houthi group refused to release the four journalists sentenced to death and exchange them for prisoners of its fighters who were captured by the army on the front lines.
The human rights organization stressed the importance of the Houthi group releasing the rest of the detained journalists, especially the four sentenced to death, in addition to ensuring their safety and working to provide all the requirements of a decent life for them and their released colleagues. "SAM" pointed out that the violations of the parties to the conflict were distributed in several Yemeni provinces, foremost of which are: Sana'a, Taiz, Marib, Aden, Hadhramaut, Shabwa, Ibb, Lahj, and Hodeidah.
SAM" highlighted the role of the various parties to the conflict in the escalation of violations against Yemeni journalists in its statement. The Houthi group was ranked first, which alone caused the deaths of 40 journalists and photographers and deprived thousands of their jobs between 2015 and June 2021. In addition, the Houthi group blocked more than 300 news websites, and placed a large number of journalists in Sana'a under house arrest because of their coverage of the group's violations in the areas it controls.
For its part, "SAM" stresses that the practices it monitors against Yemeni journalists and media professionals clearly reflects that the parties to the conflict adopt the method of threats and aggression to discourage these journalists from practicing their work and to prevent them from revealing the truth of what is happening on the ground. The organization emphasized that at the same time these practices seriously violate the rules of international law, foremost of which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and other rules that guarantee people the freedom to impart and publish information and to cover news without restriction or prosecution.
"SAM" organization concluded its statement by calling on all parties to the conflict to stop their unjustified violations and work to enable journalists and media professionals to exercise their duties and job role without restriction or prosecution. It also emphasized that protecting journalists in Yemen is no longer a luxury call, but rather a moral, legal and humanitarian duty, especially with Yemen turning into a dangerous environment that targets journalists directly, and affects their normal lives and the lives of their families, which prompted many to flee Yemen or quit their work.
The organization stressed that the international community must act and exert real pressure on those parties to ensure respect for the rules of international law that necessitate protection for these groups and full freedom in the exercise of their work, and work to ensure that those involved in violations against journalists are brought to justice and that they will not go unpunished. The organization confirmed that there must be a state of deterrence against any party that violates the rights of journalists.