American Center for Justice (ACJ) condemns extra-legal practices and violations of freedom of opinion and expression in Aden

The American Center for Justice (ACJ) is following up on violations of freedom of opinion and expression in Aden and a number of southern governorates, with practices that affect journalists, human rights activists, and even lawyers.

Journalist Ahmed Maher and his brother, Mayas, have been detained since August 6 by armed men who do not have legal status, without referring him to an official body or taking legal measures against him in the event of an accusation against him.

Meanwhile, lawyer Mazen Ali Sallam and his wife, lawyer Malak Abdul Halim were intercepted on the 21 of August after they had left the Aden Appeal Court by gunmen in a car without licence plate, and it later became clear that they were affiliating with the director of the Khor Maksar Police Station, Jalal Al-Subaihi.

According to a statement issued by the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate “Aden Branch”, lawyer Mazen Ali Sallam and his wife were intercepted illegally and arbitrarily. It is a horrific act of intimidation, which may only be carried out with dangerous criminals fleeing justice, as lawyer Sallam’s car was stopped by the gunmen who surrounded it and pointed their guns at him and his wife and stormed the car by force without permission, as well as forcing him to go to the police station while his wife was released after intimidating her.

At the Khor Maksar Police Station, the freedom of lawyer Mazen Ali Sallam was restricted. Also, he was imprisoned, was denied visits, and was not allowed to communicate with anyone outside the prison, including his fellow lawyers, in addition to confiscating his personal belongings. All of these practices are considered a violation of constitutional and legal rights and of the provisions and procedures of laws.

The people in charge of the Khor Maksar Police Station claimed that lawyer Mazen Ali Sallam photographed the officers of the department during their raid on the homes of his neighbours, which the lawyer denied, even though taking photos is not illegal or can be a criminal charge worthy of these practices.

Journalist Ahmed Maher continues to be detained by armed men affiliated with the Transitional Council against the backdrop of his media activities which makes this a case of kidnapping that falls under the category of violating freedom of opinion, expression and personal freedom. Such militia practices outside the framework of the official state apparatus puts journalist Maher in danger and without legal protection and makes all citizens vulnerable to such practices.

Until the moment of writing this statement, the Transitional Council is still ignoring calls and demands for the release of journalist Maher while the official security and judicial authorities have not issued any statements or measures regarding this violation of a citizen working in public affairs, which warns of further violations that will affect civilians while the violators will not be deterred or punished.

The American Center for Justice (ACJ) condemns the extra-legal practices of legal entities and similarly condemns the continued existence of illegal or unconstitutional entities that engage in practices and activities which violate the Constitution and the law and undermine public and private freedoms.

The Center calls for halting all the above-mentioned procedures, releasing journalist Ahmed Maher and his brother unconditionally and rehabilitating them, investigating the arbitrary arrest of lawyer Mazen Ali Sallam, and ensuring that such procedures are not repeated against any citizen outside the constitution and the law.

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