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Mwatana: Houthi Group Should Release All Detainees and Forcibly Disappeared People Held in Its Prisons

Report by Mwatana Organization for Human Rights on the incidents of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance
Sit-in of families of detainees and forcibly detainees in front of the residence of the UN Envoy to Yemen at Sheraton Hotel, east of Sana'a, May 1, 2016    
Thu - (12 May 2016) - Press Releases


Mwatana Organization for Human Rights said that Ansar Allah armed group (Houthis) carried out a wide campaign of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances. The campaign targeted hundreds of civilians all over the territorial regions under its control ever since the group took over the capital Sana'a and power in the country end of September 2014, in a grave violation against human rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Mwatana calls on Ansar Allah Group (Houthis) to halt violating the International Humanitarian Law,  quickly release all arbitrary detainees, and disclose the fate of those forcibly disappeared in its prisons; without any delay that may redouble perils risking their lives or extending the restriction of their freedom and denying them their rights and dignity.


This is stated in a report Mwatana issued today, documenting tens of cases of arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances carried out by Houthi authorities against civilians in seven Yemeni governorates (Sana’a, Taiz, Hodeidah, Hajjah, Ibb, Dhamar and Amran).


The incidents of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance were conducted against those civilians of different opinions and political opponents to Houthi Group; mainly members of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Al-Islah Party). Such detention incidents have targeted ordinary people, local journalists, political activists and human rights defenders, physicians, academics, imams, politicians and members of the Jewish minority in Yemen. Three women of the Al-Islah Party leadership were also subjected to arrest and temporary detention.


The report entitled “They Are Not Here” includes 53 cases of arbitrary detentions and 26 cases of enforced disappearances carried out by Houthi Group. Mwatana verified these cases through field investigation and conducting around 200 interviews with families of victims, eyewitnesses, and released victims.

These cases include 10 journalists who had been forcibly disappeared for several months before unveiling locations of their detentions. Some of these journalists were subjected to torture and held in solitary confinement according to testimonies of their relatives that Mwatana has documented.

The release of this report coincided with hunger strike the detained journalists begun due to being subjected to maltreatment in their detentions, according to a families's press release of which Mwatana received a copy. 

Radhya al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, said: “Houthi Group pursues repressive dangerous behavior when deliberately forcibly hiding civilians in the darkness of its detentions and leaving hundreds of families in dark labyrinth of tragedy”.


The Report emphatically calls for the formulation of an international commission to investigate all violations and breaching of International Humanitarian Law by all the parties to the conflict in Yemen, particularly issues of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance.


Al-Mutawakel, stressed that these grave violations against the International Humanitarian Law, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances and relevant practices that degrade the humanitarian dignity--besides they are a stain in the Houthi group record which they will bear to the future, they are also crimes that do not subject to statutory limitations and the Houthi group must recognize this.


Al-Mutawakel urged the Houthi group to respect the International Humanitarian Law, and called on the international community, particularly the UN and its special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to put the addressing of detainees issue among priorities of Kuwait talks without linking it to any other files.



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