It monitored approximately 2778 violations
SAM Releases Its 2023 Briefing
  • 20/02/2024
    SAM |

    On Tuesday, February 20, 2024, the SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties issued its comprehensive annual human rights report for the year 2023. The report covered several important aspects. Firstly, it provided a comprehensive overview of the political, economic, and environmental context in Yemen during 2023. The second aspect focused on documenting and analyzing human rights violations that took place during the year 2023 and their impact on human rights in Yemen. This included deliberate killings of civilians, indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, targeting of schools and hospitals, forced displacement, torture, and sexual violations. The SAM report also examined the impact of the humanitarian crisis on economic, social, and cultural rights, including the right to health, education, and adequate housing. The third aspect of the report highlighted the activities and human rights work carried out by the organization throughout the year.

    In the activities section, the organization stated that the year 2023 was filled with achievements and failures. We faced numerous practical and logistical challenges, yet we accomplished a great deal in the organization's work, thanks to the dedicated team that worked in the field. They confronted challenges and overcame obstacles with determination. In this regard, we highlight the most significant accomplishments during 2023. The organization carried out 120 human rights activities, including 72 human rights statements that addressed various violations that occurred during 2023.

    Among these activities were 15 joint statements with local and international organizations, 10 high-quality reports, a single human rights study, 3 submissions to United Nations mechanisms, 6 rights-based seminars, awareness-raising events, and discussions. Additionally, there were 3 human rights projects, and the organization developed its website by adding an archive window for the data and reports it has issued throughout its existence. The organization also contributed to televised media interactions and engaged through social media platforms through statements and interviews. The activities of this year, like every year, were characterized by diversity and placed significant emphasis on capacity-building and impact. We are proud of the work we have accomplished in 2023 and are committed to continuing our efforts for human rights in Yemen.

    SAM affirmed that the year 2023 witnessed developments in the political situation that indicated a military and political stalemate between the conflicting parties in Yemen. No significant progress was achieved on the political front, and the prevailing situation became an unofficial ceasefire. In the north, the Houthi group strengthened its military forces and conducted military displays to showcase its capabilities, including missile forces and drones. They also directed their attention to other fronts and held military demonstrations in the Hodeidah Governorate amidst threats from the Minister of Defense in the Houthi group to liberate Yemen and confront the aggression.

    SAM confirmed that the Houthis refuse to engage in direct dialogue with the government but continue to participate in talks directly with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Their aim is to increase pressure on the Kingdom in order to achieve political gains and international recognition, taking advantage of the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement facilitated by China, as well as the internal disputes within the Presidential Council that have affected its work.

    The briefing also indicated that the issue of decentralization has become a central focus in the upcoming phase. The Hadhrami movement has strongly asserted its agenda amidst the conflict and division within the Presidential Council, along with the ambiguity surrounding the position of the Arab coalition.

    Human rights violations

    According to the briefing, it was observed that the number of human rights violations significantly decreased in 2023 compared to previous years. The organization's analysis attributes this decline to the unofficial ceasefire between the parties and the reduced level of escalation on the frontlines. This reduction had a significant impact on the restrictions and violations against civilians. However, it is worth noting that violations that occurred in previous years continued without any alleviation. These violations include unfair trials, detainees in detention centers, armed checkpoints that restrict freedom of movement, seizure of funds and homes related to political opinions, and death sentences issued by the courts affiliated with the Houthi-led government in the capital, Sana'a.

    During the period from January 2023 to December 2023, the organization reported a total of 2,778 violations. These violations were categorized as follows: 621 violations of the right to life, 606 violations of physical assault and injuries, 411 cases of arbitrary detention, 50 cases of enforced disappearances, 88 cases of torture, 107 violations of children's rights, 5 cases of sexual violence, 684 violations of private property, and 206 violations of public property.

    The organization indicated that Ansar Allah (the Houthis) topped the list of violators in 2023, with a total of 2,121 violations. The so-called Security Belt Forces committed 158 violations, while the legitimate government forces were responsible for 95 violations. The Hadhrami Elite committed 26 violations, and 102 violations were attributed to unknown parties. Additionally, 156 violations were committed by Al-Qaeda organization.

    The organization drew attention to the humanitarian situation, affirming that the city of Taiz continues to suffer significant losses due to the obstruction of aid by the Houthis. The city's residents have been facing a severe humanitarian crisis since 2015 when the Houthis closed all major roads leading to and from the city. The closure of these roads has resulted in significant constraints on the flow of essential goods, including medicine and food, as well as impeding the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the city.


    It is worth mentioning that the World Food Program has reported repeated incidents of looting of humanitarian aid, where the Houthis seize food trucks and supplies intended for vulnerable communities. Often, the aid is diverted to their fighters and beneficiaries. The Houthis also impose extensive bureaucratic delays and restrictions on monitoring the World Food Program. The organization pointed out that the Houthis routinely impose unofficial "taxes" on food aid in areas under their control, depleting the supplies in the process. This undermines the effectiveness of aid and hinders its access to those in dire need.

    In the area of impunity

    SAM considered that the rapid political developments aimed at reaching a political solution, which guarantees a comprehensive ceasefire and the cessation of military operations, have pushed the sponsoring parties to avoid discussing criminal accountability at the present time. This is due to the fear that such discussions would lead to stubbornness and refusal by political parties to engage in political negotiations, which casts a dark shadow over the future of justice and integrity in the country. SAM clarified that the war has created a state of ongoing disruption in the functioning of law enforcement institutions and has resulted in a sharp polarization, with each political party seeking to monopolize the appointment of executive judges in judicial institutions, whether in the Supreme Court, appellate courts, or public prosecutors' offices. The judiciary has been used as a tool in the conflict, making it difficult to achieve justice and enforce human rights laws in Yemen.

    In the economic file

    The briefing highlighted the ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis in Yemen amidst the protracted armed conflict that has been ongoing for nearly a decade. It emphasized the impact of the Houthis' unlawful practices in tax and customs collection, which has exacerbated the crisis and caused significant harm to citizens and the economy. This calls for a military and political solution that helps revive the economy and alleviate the humanitarian crisis. The briefing mentioned that the Houthi group has worsened the economic situation by imposing arbitrary and unlawful taxes on trade and economic activities over the past year. Militia members are now demanding over 50-80% of the value of many commercial goods in customs and taxes. Traders face impossible demands, routine confiscation of goods, and threats of violence if they refuse to pay exorbitant unofficial tariffs. Consequently, this has stifled most commercial activity in Houthi-controlled areas, except for smuggling and the black market.

    It also pointed out that the Houthi attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea have led to an increase in the cost of imports, fueling inflation within Yemen. This makes already scarce supplies even more costly. It has also resulted in higher insurance premiums and shipping costs to Yemeni ports, making food imports more expensive. Additionally, many foreign traders have reduced the volume of goods due to security concerns in high seas. This has resulted in a sharp decline in food imports to Yemen through the main port of Hodeidah. The damage inflicted hampers broader economic recovery.

    In regards to climate change and environmental pollution, the briefing stated that Yemen is experiencing increasing impacts of climate change, including an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events. The country is witnessing more frequent floods, hurricanes, and sandstorms, resulting in significant human and material losses. These extreme weather events can cause destruction to infrastructure, including roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals, which further exacerbates the economic and social challenges in the country. The most recent example was Cyclone Tej in 2023, which struck the province of Al-Mahra and parts of Socotra Island. The briefing also noted that international and local efforts to combat climate change in Yemen are weak due to the political, economic, and security challenges facing the country.

    The briefing further added that the oil and gas industry poses significant environmental challenges and puts the marine and coastal environment in Yemen at risk of oil pollution. Additionally, there are concerns regarding pollution resulting from oil production operations in the oil fields of Shabwa, Hadramout, and Marib, and the catastrophic effects it has had on the population in these governorates. This includes the spread of diseases such as cancer and kidney failure, as well as the impact on agricultural lands and contamination of groundwater.

    The briefing concluded by discussing the challenges and opportunities facing human rights work in Yemen due to the political division the country is experiencing. The political divisions have created pressures that hinder movement, outreach, and access to information in the field of human rights. Many organizations have faced harassment, the denial of license renewals or legal permits, and restrictions on carrying out public activities. Additionally, some members have been subjected to arrests or trials. These challenges have posed significant obstacles to the work of human rights organizations in Yemen.

    Furthermore, Sam faced difficulties in obtaining the necessary funding to sustain her work, both internally and externally. Building relationships with organizations and embassies required criteria unrelated to competence and achievements. She also encountered cultural and societal challenges, as many perceive human rights work as an external endeavor with no relevance to the domestic context. Consequently, individuals working in organizations, especially human rights organizations, faced numerous accusations and difficulties in dealing with issues.

    The organization recommended the need for international support for human rights work by providing necessary funding and exerting pressure on governments to respect human rights. It emphasized the importance of enhancing human rights awareness within society through promoting a human rights culture and educating individuals about their rights. Additionally, it called for support to human rights civil society organizations by providing financial and logistical assistance and ensuring their independence.


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