YEMEN: HOUTHIS UNDER PRESSURE TO RELEASE JOURNALISTS

Houthi soldiers in Yemen

16 April 2020 :

The Houthis are coming under increasing pressure to reverse their decision to execute four Yemeni journalists, who were sentenced to death in court on 11 April 2020 on spying charges.
The four were among a group of 10 journalists who were detained in early 2015 as the militia was tightening its grip on Sanaa and other Yemeni provinces.
The UN’s Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths and Yemeni parliament speaker Sultan Al-Barakani described the Houthi trial as “an escalating step” that violated previous agreements about prisoner swaps between the internationally recognized government and the rebels.
“We condemn these trials which lack a minimum level of integrity and (are) against innocent people,” Salem Al-Khanbashi, Yemen’s deputy prime minister, told Arab News.
“The Yemeni government has urged the international community to pressure the Houthis to stop those absurd plays.”
Rights groups and relatives of the journalists are also demanding that pressure increase on the group to drop the death sentence.
According to the official Saba news agency, Al-Barakani called upon Griffiths, who is working to implement a Saudi-led truce in Yemen, to step in and have the Houthis rescind the trial and put a stop to hostilities.
“It is an escalating step that reflects the extent of the Houthi militia’s disregard for the Security Council, United Nations’ resolutions and international agreements regarding detainees, prisoners, journalists and the freedom of individuals and families,” Al-Barakani said in his letter.
Foreign ambassadors to Yemen demanded that the Houthis stop using courts to settle scores with their opponents. “The United States condemns the Houthis’ sentencing of four journalists to death,” US Ambassador to Yemen Christopher Henzel tweeted. “We join the international community in calling for the immediate release of the journalists.”
The Yemen Journalist Syndicate, which documents violations against the media by Houthis and other warring factions in Yemen, also condemned the death sentence, accusing them of physically and psychologically abusing the journalists since the outset of their detention. “We strongly condemn all of the court’s procedures and consider them a new crime added to a series of violations that have targeted journalists over the past five years,” Nabiel Al-Osaidi, a senior syndicate member, told Arab News.
Abdullah Al-Mansouri, a brother of Tawfeq Al-Mansouri, one of the detained journalists, said his family had been seized with panic since the verdict. “We were surprised by these false and unjust verdicts,” he told Arab News.
“Our anxiety and fears have increased ever since. We are facing a criminal militia that exploits and violates the judiciary system. We call on all those human rights and freedom of expression advocates throughout the world to put pressure on the Houthi militia to save their lives and release them immediately.”

 

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