Today, November 2nd , the world celebrates the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 163/68 of 2013, to urge Member States to take concrete measures to end impunity,between 2006 and 2020, more than 1,200 journalists were killed worldwide, and according to the UNESCO Observatory of Murdered Journalists, in 9 out of 10 cases the killers went unpunished.
As for Yemen, the media and journalists have been experiencing the worst nightmares ever since the Houthi armed group occupied the capital Sana’a, and took control of State institutions in late September 2014. It has launched a campaign of vicious violations of attacks, attacks, looting, intimidation, terrorism, abductions, breaking into homes, institutions and offices, torture to death, direct hunting and heavy-handed shelling to use detained journalists as human shields in weapons stores.
Yemeni journalists and media professionals have found themselves in the tragic reality of a systematic crackdown and a brutal war of media and press organizations aimed at terrorizing them, excluding them as witnesses and keeping society in disarray and confusion, thus impeding the free circulation of information, opinions and ideas to all citizens.
The Houthi armed group, which is behind the bulk of these crimes against the press, has continued to arrest and hide a number of journalists since mid-2015, including four who were ordered executed in April 2020, namely Harith Hamid, Abdulkhalq Imran, Tawfiq al-Mansouri, Akram and Waledi, as well as their colleague Wahid al-Sufi , who was abducted by Houthi elements of Sana’a’s Tahrir mail office while paying an Internet bill on April 6, 2015.
During their almost seven-year detention, qualified journalists were subjected to a long series of methods of physical torture and constant psychological terrorism, being intermittently hidden, denied access to medical care despite their poor health as a result of torture and epidemics in prisons, assaulted by warders during visits and other forms of ill-treatment and deprived of their most basic human rights.
In the most recent statement by the journalists’ families almost a month ago, said that the four journalists had been assaulted by the prison superintendent, Abu Shihab Al-Murtaza. The families of the journalists added in the pleas that Al-Murtaza attacked her sons with guns and curses and isolated them in solitary cells.Journalist Abdulkhalq Imran was threatened with physical liquidation, transported to an unknown location, brutally re-tortured and suspended for the journalist Tawfiq al-Mansouri for several hours.
Amnesty International said in a statement that, throughout these years, the arbitrary detention of journalists by the Houthi de facto authorities is a grim indication of the dire situation facing freedom of information in Yemen, a shocking reminder of the oppressive media climate faced by Yemeni journalists, and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
In Hadramaut, Taiz and Aden, journalists are subjected to harassment and arbitrary arrests. The proportion of press violations varies lighter and less than the Houthis’ areas of control. However, it did not stop. A few weeks ago, Emirati – backed Transitional Council forces arrested journalists Amar Mukhshab and Raft Rashad, still in their prisons in the city of Aden, against the backdrop of recent events and demonstrations denouncing the economic situation.
Journalist Muhammad al-Maqri, who was kidnapped nearly 6 years ago by al-Qaeda elements in Hadramout, his fate is still unknown to this day
The targeting of journalists and media by the warring parties in Yemen is on the rise on a daily basis, especially against those they consider to be opposed and involved in the conflict. The report of the Yemeni Journalists’ Union reveals that, from the beginning of the war to the end of 2020, more than 1,400 media freedoms have been violated, among which was 45 cases of killings of journalists, photographers and media workers, and the displacement of some 700 journalists from Houthi control areas to internationally recognized government control areas.
In the face of the ongoing war against the press and journalists and the motivation for their targeting by such horrific images, it is therefore necessary to investigate all such attacks and to prosecute the perpetrators through an effective and well-functioning domestic criminal justice system, let alone to make reparation for the victims.
The effect of killing a journalist without the perpetrator getting punished is, in fact, countless more journalists, and every case of a journalist being subjected to violence without being investigated and punished amounts to an open call for further violence; Ensuring that journalists are held accountable is therefore an essential element in avoiding future attacks.
We stress an end to impunity for murders and violations against journalists and the release of all abducted and forcibly hidden journalists from the prisons of all parties throughout the country, primarily the four journalists ordered by the Houthi group to be executed and to reveal the fate of Wahid al-Sufi forcibly hidden by the group.
Issued by The American Center for Justice (ACJ)
November 2nd 2021.