Ansar Allah Must Immediately Release Adnan al-Harazi, Director of Prodigy Systems Inc.

Monday, August 14, 2023
Ansar Allah Must Immediately Release Adnan al-Harazi, Director of Prodigy Systems Inc.

Mwatana for Human Rights calls on the Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group to immediately release Adnan Al-Harazi (50 years old), founder and director of the company “Prodigy Systems Inc.,” who has been arbitrarily detained for approximately eight months in total disregard of national law and international human rights law.

According to the testimonies gathered by Mwatana, witnesses confirmed that on January 11, 2023, security forces affiliated with the Security and Intelligence Service of the Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group forcibly stormed the headquarters of Prodigy Systems Inc., which works in the field of monitoring and evaluation. The Houthi security forces arbitrarily detained seven of the company's employees, including Adnan Al-Harazi, and closed the company's headquarters, without adhering to any legal procedure.

According to the witness testimonies collected by Mwatana, the employees of Prodigy Systems Inc. were shocked when the company premises was surrounded by a large number of military and civilian vehicles and buses with tinted windows, two armored vehicles, along with "private" plated cars that closed off the street where the company is located. In addition, several masked armed men wearing military uniforms and others in civilian clothes were observed. This included female security personnel as well. All of them broke into the company's offices at gunpoint.

Radhya Al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights, said: "Adnan Al-Harazi, who remains arbitrarily detained, must be released immediately. The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group must cease their violations against the commercial sector and civil society institutions."

Witnesses told Mwatana that security forces had taken all employees out of their offices and gathered them in the company's restroom, and confiscated all their personal belongings, including mobile phones, laptops, and other possessions. When the director of the company, Adnan Al-Harazi, asked them who they belonged to and what side they were affiliated to in the armed conflict, and asked them to show the search warrant, they refused to provide any explanation. Then, they distributed paper questionnaires to the employees to fill out and sign.

The employees were detained from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by the security forces at the company’s headquarters. The security forces questioned several male and female employees, and then allowed them to leave the company. The company's director, Adnan Al-Harazi, and six other employees were taken to an unknown destination. The company's servers were also confiscated. According to witnesses, four other employees were also detained after the break-in incident. The Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group has released all the detained employees except for the company’s director, Adnan Al-Harazi, up until the date of this statement.

According to the testimony of Adnan Al-Harazi's family, the family did not receive a call from Adnan until seven days after his detention and enforced disappearance, informing them that he was being held by the Security and Intelligence Services in the Shamlan area – west of Sana'a. Twenty days after Adnan was held in solitary and isolation from the outside world, his family was able to visit him for the first time from behind a glass barrier and speak with him over a telephone. Adnan Al-Harazi's family also reported that he has been on a hunger strike since Sunday, July 9, 2023, and that those detaining him have been injecting supposed nutrients into his veins, the exact contents of which were not known to the family and of which they have not been informed .

From the moment Adnan was detained, the family demanded several authorities and leaders of the Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group to release him and reopen the company's headquarters, but all their efforts failed.

Nada Al-Moayad, Adnan Al-Harazi's wife, told Mwatana: “We have been affected by this detention on all levels. Adnan has been detained for several months without reason, and the company has stopped operating since the moment of his detention, without legal justification.”

The legal support team at Mwatana formally petitioned for Adnan Al-Harazi’s swift release by submitting legal memorandums to the Public Prosecutor, the Specialized Criminal Prosecution, and the Ministry of Human Rights. Adnan Al-Harazi is currently still subjected to arbitrary detention by the security services of the Ansar Allah de facto authority in Sana'a.

In early June 2023 - that is, after nearly five months of the arrest - the Security and Intelligence Service referred the case file to the Specialized Criminal Prosecution, which began the first official investigation sessions on June 11, 2023, and based on information obtained by Mwatana, the investigation sessions of Prodigy was often held from 3 pm until 1 am inside the security and intelligence building, in violation of the Yemeni Law of Criminal Procedure.

The Prodigy Systems Inc. company has been operating in the technical, and monitoring and evaluation fields as an independent entity for aid organizations and United Nations agencies since 2006. The company has a staff of hundreds of workers, including employees, contractors, researchers, drivers, and daily wage workers. For this staff, employment at the company constitutes their sole source of income. Since the company was raided, they have been left without any source of income. One of the employees told Mwatana: “I have been experiencing an economic crisis since the company was raided. I have accumulated rent debts, which forced me to turn my private car into a taxi. Although I have no children, I help my father and mother with their living expenses.” He added, "I am afraid of being detained! Every time a patrol passes in front of me, I get scared, thinking that they are coming to get me.”

A security force affiliated with the Security and Intelligence Service of the Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group continues to control the company's headquarters to this day. Witnesses also reported to Mwatana that the company's employees are summoned from time to time to the company's headquarters by individuals affiliated with the Security and Intelligence Service to investigate and interrogate them about the company's activities.

Arbitrary detention violates national laws and regulations. Yemeni legislation in force stipulates that a person may not be arrested without an arrest warrant issued by a competent authority. National laws also require the investigative agencies to send a suspect to the public prosecutor within 24 hours after the arrest.

International human rights law also prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Yemen, clearly states that: “No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.” Furthermore, the arrest or detention of a person, followed by the concealment of their whereabouts, are acts amounting to an enforced disappearance. Enforced disappearances constitute a serious violation of human rights, infringing upon the right to liberty among other fundamental rights.

Mwatana reiterates its call to the Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group for the immediate release of Adnan Al-Harazi, whose continued detention constitutes a clear violation of Yemeni national law in force and international human rights law. Mwatana also calls on the Ansar Allah (Houthi) armed group to allow Prodigy Systems Inc. to reopen, to cease harassing its employees and workers, and to stop targeting commercial and civil institutions operating in the areas under its control.