Detention of Civilians, Including Children in Mukalla

The Hadhrami Elite Forces and Hadhramaut Coast Security Must Immediately Release All Detainees

Saturday, October 7, 2023
Detention of  Civilians, Including Children in Mukalla

Mwatana for Human Rights reported that on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, the Hadhrami Elite Forces and the Hadhramaut Coast Security conducted extensive raids in the Al-Dees area of Mukalla city. Heavily armed and masked soldiers, riding in military pickups and armored vehicles, forcibly entered civilian homes without legal warrants, causing fear and distress among the residents, including children and women. Mwatana documented the detention of 19 civilians, including two children.

At around 3:00 a.m., on Tuesday, security forces cordoned off Al-Dees area in the coastal city of Mukalla, Hadhramaut governorate, southeastern Yemen, completely sealing off the area from its surroundings. Approximately half an hour after establishing the cordon, these forces besieged several civilian homes, describing them as "wanted" individuals for disturbing public tranquility and undermining security and stability in the city of Mukalla. They forcibly entered these homes as part of what they called "Justice Scale Operation."

An eyewitness informed Mwatana that a joint military force, comprised of over 50 heavily armed soldiers riding in 10 military pickup trucks and 3 armored vehicles, associated with the Elite Hadrami Forces and the Hadhramaut Coast Security Department, forcibly entered the residence of a civilian in the Basswaid neighborhood of the Al-Dees area. These forces forcefully entered the house and caused damage to its furniture. This operation specifically targeted three neighborhoods in the Al-Dees area: the Al-Badw neighborhood, the Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar neighborhood, and the Basswaid neighborhood.

Mwatana noted that during this operation, the forces assaulted number of those they detained, using the butts of their rifles. without female police personnel present, they forcibly entered at least three houses late at night, causing panic among the children and women of the detained individuals. The forces involved in the operation disregarded the right to security, the sanctity of homes, and the preservation of dignity, as well as violated procedural justice principles related to arrest procedures. They ignored all legal guarantees provided by prevailing laws and various international laws.

Radhya Al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights, said, “Terrifying civilians and committing serious violations and disregarding laws under the pretext of maintaining security constitute a threat to security itself. It is a crime that deserves deterrence and accountability, and it cannot be silenced.” She added, “The Attorney General in Aden should fulfill his legal duties and put an end to these violations, initiate a transparent investigation, hold those involved accountable, and provide justice to the victims, as these practices violate applicable laws.”

Other witnesses told Mwatana that some victims of arbitrary detention were subjected to torture after being taken to the Ad-Dabah Port. Mwatana verified a video clip documenting members of these forces forcibly entering a residence under armed threat. The footage shows the fear and tears of children and women, illustrating the extent of the tragedy. Later, the security forces released the Tow detained children and 9 of the adult detainees, while 8 civilians remain in detention as of the issuance of this statement.

Since 2015, Mwatana has documented no fewer than eight incidents of raids carried out by the authorities on homes of civilian residents in Hadhramaut governorate. Local authorities employ terrorism charges as a pretext to suppress freedom of speech, expression, and peaceful protest.

Mwatana called for a transparent and impartial investigation, holding those involved in these violations accountable, releasing and redressing the detainees, and empowering the Attorney General to fulfill his duties in ending these violations and ensuring they do not recur.