Call for an urgent investigation into the death of Kamel Talib and his son in the security forces prison in Seiyun
  • 16/04/2024
    SAM |

    Geneva - SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said that the Yemeni Ministry of Interior and the security authorities in Hadramaut Governorate should immediately initiate a rapid and comprehensive investigation into the killing of Yemeni citizen "Kamel Ali Taleb", 54 years old, and his son "Abdullah Kamel Taleb", 26 years old, who died a year and nine months after their arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance by the Director of Security of Wadi and Desert "Abdullah Salmin bin Habish Al-Sairi", and to stop all suspects in this case, and other cases of enforced disappearance in Hadramaut Governorate, and to direct the judicial authorities to open a comprehensive investigation, as the crimes of enforced disappearance and torture constitute a threat to individual and social security alike, and the government must call on the judiciary to monitor the behavior of the security personnel under its command.

    According to the information obtained by SAM organization from the victims' relatives, on July 20, 2022, a large force affiliated with the Director of Security of Wadi and Desert (Abdullah bin Habish) raided the area where the victim's (Kamel Ali Muhammad bin Talib Al-Kathiri) house is located, and opened fire unilaterally, terrorizing the residents of the area before storming the house and opening fire inside it, without regard for the sanctity of the home, children and women, and arrested Kamel and his son and others who were in the house. After an hour, they released everyone except (Kamel and his son) who were taken to the Security Administration, on the pretext that they would take their statements.

    Tawfiq Al-Humaidi, the head of the organization, said: "What happened to bin Talib is a horrific crime that must not go unpunished, especially since this crime is not the first to be committed against the sons of the region, as the SAM organization has issued a number of reports on arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and the liquidation of detainees in prisons, at the hands of security forces. This makes a comprehensive investigation of utmost importance to stop these practices and hold the perpetrators accountable before the judiciary."

    According to the details of the crime narrated by one of the victims' relatives, "For one year and nine months, the place of detention of Kamel Talib Al-Kathiri and his son was hidden, and their family was prevented from contacting them and checking on their health. Until two months ago, we received a message from one of the employees of the Security Administration itself, who confirmed to us that (Kamel and his son Abdullah) were killed in the afternoon of the day of their arrest, which was one year and 9 months ago from today's date."

    According to the investigation by the SAM organization, the reasons behind the abduction of the victim "Kamel bin Taleb Al-Kathiri" and his son Abdullah were as follows:

    One of the members of the tribe stated that those forces claimed there was a case of kidnapping of the son of one of the merchants. However, after some time, the falsity of this claim became evident, as this case had officially ended, and Kamel had previously been presented to justice and acquitted. His tribe had always been keen to respond to them, and he would often say that whoever had a right with him, whether a citizen or a state, he was ready to fulfill that right.

    According to one of the victim's relatives, "We requested the prosecution to perform an autopsy through a forensic doctor, and we went with the Public Prosecution to see the bodies. Unfortunately, we were all shocked when we saw the two bodies, as they were in very poor condition. We could not recognize them due to the severe deterioration of the bodies, which had become black, decomposed, and stuck to the clothes and blankets that surrounded them. The features were completely gone, and there were signs of mistreatment and facial disfigurement on the bodies. After a year and a half, you would only find mummified-like bodies, as the fluids had evaporated and the bodies had become like mummies - very horrific."

    Based on the information provided by one of the sources familiar with the case who was contacted by the SAM organization, the following details emerged:

    The two bodies were brought to the Central Hospital in Seiyun, during the tenure of the former governor of Hadramout and current member of the Presidential Council, Faraj Al-Bahsani, which was about two years ago.

    They were brought by the General Security of the governorate, under strict secrecy, and the person in charge of the morgue was warned against speaking about the matter or making any statements to any entity.

    The bodies were brought in by the National Security men, accompanied by the General Security commander.

    The source indicated that the bodies showed signs of beating and dragging, and that if the father and son were from a weaker tribe with less tribal support, it would have been easier to get rid of them.

    According to the information provided to SAM by one of the victims' relatives, the security director is trying to distance himself from the responsibility for the enforced disappearance of the victims and the cause of their death under torture. He has allegedly attempted to verbally justify the situation to the victims' relatives as follows:

    After the victims were arbitrarily arrested, the National Security Director in Wadi Hadramout, known as "Faisal Bajri", came and took them to the Al-Rayyan detention center in Al-Mukalla.

    The victims were then eliminated/executed in Al-Rayyan.

    However, SAM has not been able to verify the accuracy of this information. The victims' relatives affirm that the information they obtained indicates that the security director arrested them and sent them from Seiyun to Al-Rayyan airport, and after their death in Al-Rayyan, the bodies were sent back to the Central Hospital in Seiyun.

    So there seems to be a discrepancy between the security director's attempted justification and the information provided by the victims' relatives. Sam has not been able to independently confirm the details.

    Based on the information provided, it appears that SAM has taken the following actions:

    SAM sent a set of questions and a standardized letter, sealed, to both the Director of the Ministry of Interior's office and the Director of Security for the Desert and Wadi, inquiring about the circumstances, background, and legal basis for the arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of the victims' bodies for this extended period.

    However, SAM has not received any official response from these two entities, except for a brief response via WhatsApp on April 14, 2024 from the Security Director, stating that the case is with the Minister of Interior and they are addressing it through official channels. The Security Director also stated that any further inquiries should be made through the judiciary, and they will respond to them officially.

    Based on the new information provided, it is clear that SAM has obtained access to a complaint filed by the son and brother of the victim, Kamel Taleb, to the Appeals Prosecution Office in Seiyun. The key details from this complaint are:

    The complaint outlines the specifics of the incident and the alleged legal violations committed by the individual named "Abdullah Al-Saeeri".

    The complaint accuses Al-Saeeri of delaying and obstructing the victim's family, making excuses about his unavailability.

    Crucially, the complaint levies accusations against the previously mentioned Security Director for the crimes of unlawful abduction, enforced disappearance, and premeditated murder.

    SAM also reviewed correspondence issued by the Seiyun District Prosecutor to the Seiyun Appeals Prosecution, demanding that a forensic doctor be summoned for an autopsy, and that a special report be submitted on the time and causes of death.

    SAM believes that the actions of the Public Prosecution and the handling of the case of the kidnapping of the citizen "Kamel" and his son by the legal authorities have been delayed, especially with the testimonies confirmed by their family that the bodies have become decomposed to the extent that it is not possible to know all the details related to the case of kidnapping and murder. This requires the adoption of urgent measures supported by the higher security and judicial authorities, to provide all logistical support for the investigation, and to remove all obstacles that hinder the investigation, in order to ensure justice for the victims and bring the perpetrators to trial.

    The reception of the two bodies by the Central Hospital in Seiyun without informing the competent authorities more than two years ago, and hiding them in the hospital refrigerator until this moment is a crime, raises suspicions about the existence of organized crime, in which a number of parties participate, and uses their influence to hide it, which requires a serious investigation to be opened and the circumstances and motives of the crime are revealed, and who is behind it.

    It is important to note here that the practices carried out by the security services in the Wadi and the Hadhramaut desert, led by the Director General, against the victims, are considered crimes in violation of the Yemeni Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Law, particularly the acts of kidnapping outside the legal framework, enforced disappearance, and premeditated murder. Additionally, the violations include the desecration of homes, terrorizing the innocent, and assaults on women - all of which were committed without any legal warrants or judicial orders.

    SAM Organization relied on documenting this incident on interviewing members of the families of the victims who died in detention, and other people, where they answered a number of questions, and clarified many details, in addition to the communication of the SAM team with the concerned in the Ministry of Interior and the Director of Public Security for the desert and valley, and also obtained a number of documents and memoranda related to the case to reach this conclusion included in this report.

    Arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture have been widespread during the Yemeni war, perpetrated by all parties. In Hadramout governorate, these abuses have been carried out by security forces and the army, under the supervision of the United Arab Emirates, a member of the Arab Coalition.

    The SAM organization has published numerous reports on prisons where torture is practiced, such as Al-Rayyan Airport Prison and the Seyoun Central Prison (also known as the "Mud Prison"). The panel of prominent experts and several local and international human rights organizations have also documented many cases of enforced disappearance and torture in recent years, some of which have resulted in deaths under torture or killings by security forces.

    For example, Saeed Abdullah Ahmed Al-Sefrah, 50 years old, surrendered himself to the First Military Region in Seyoun, Hadramout, through a neighborhood sheikh, but his fate remains unknown for the past six years. Shaker Ahmed Suroor bin Hamel, 57 years old, was arrested in Seyoun, Hadramout, in September 2017 and has been forcibly disappeared since then. Sultan Ghalib Omar, 16 years old, and his brother Wael Ghalib Omar, 17 years old, were arrested by security forces in March 2015 and forcibly disappeared in the Mud Prison. Ahmed Fayez Salem Bayumin was arrested in Ramadan 2019 and remains forcibly disappeared.

    The report also documents the deaths of Muhammad Awad Barahma under torture in Mukalla in May 2016, and the death of Lutfi Jum'an Bafatim (nicknamed "Bullet") due to torture in Mukalla in September 2016.

    Based on the previous facts, we confirm that the actions taken by the security forces are in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code, particularly regarding the arrest of a person and the search of his home without a warrant and clear charges. This is a violation under Articles 172, 173, 175, 115, and 144 of the Yemeni Criminal Procedure Code. Additionally, these actions violate the Yemeni Penal Code, especially the unlawful abduction and enforced disappearance, in addition to the violations mentioned in the Criminal Procedure Code under Articles 166, 167, and 253 of the Yemeni Penal Code.

    The link between torture and enforced disappearance is firmly established in international law. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has found that prolonged isolation and deprivation of contact with the outside world constitute in themselves a form of cruel and inhuman treatment. Furthermore, the European Court of Human Rights has declared that the anguish and uncertainty suffered by the families of disappeared persons over a prolonged and continuing period of time represents a violation of the absolute and non-derogable prohibition of torture.

    SAM calls on the Yemeni government to take quick and effective steps in the case of the kidnapping and murder of the two citizens, "Kamel Ali Talib", and his son, "Abdullah Kamel Talib", and to detain all those proven to be involved in the incidents of enforced disappearance and torture that led to the death of the victims, in preparation for bringing them to a fair trial for serious and horrific crimes, and calls for a comprehensive investigation into the incidents of torture and enforced disappearance recorded during the past years.

    © 2023 Sam Organization, Designed & developed by