The Role of Torture in Undermining Social Stability

The Sixth Human Rights Forum Event

Monday, June 26, 2023
The Role of Torture in Undermining Social Stability

On June 26, 2023, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Mwatana for Human Rights held its sixth ‘Human Rights Communication. The event focused on discussing the issues of torture that have escalated in recent years amid the armed conflict in Yemen.

The virtual event, held via Zoom, featured speakers including Najla Fadel, a member of the Abductees’ Mothers Association, Bonyan Jamal, the Director of the Legal Support Unit at Mwatana for Human Rights, and Ashraf Aafi, Legal Affairs Officer at the World Organization Against Torture. The event was facilitated by lawyer Rowaida Al-Motarib from Mwatana for Human Rights.

Najla Fadel emphasized the importance of paying attention to the content of media messages, as some can harm the families of the victims. She affirmed that "torture creates an environment of fear, panic, dread, and tension," playing an indirect role in "undermining social stability." She also highlighted that "the Abductees’ Mothers Association provides psychological support to the families of torture victims, along with offering entertainment programs and counseling,” and that the association has documented 1332 cases of torture.

Bonyan Jamal stated that "torture is practiced in several prisons under the control of conflicting parties in Yemen." For instance, it occurs "in the Security and Intelligence prisons in Sana'a, controlled by the Ansar Allah group (Houthis), in the Political Security prison in Marib, controlled by the internationally recognized government and the Islah Party, in the Counterterrorism Department prison in Aden, controlled by the Southern Transitional Council, and in the mud prison in Hadhramout, controlled by the internationally recognized government." She pointed out that "the Yemeni judiciary and prosecutions are failing to carry out the minimum role in investigating torture violations inside Yemeni prisons." She highlighted that the Legal Support Unit at Mwatana for Human Rights has worked on 417 cases of torture.

Ashraf Aafi stressed the importance of civil society's role in advocating for justice for victims, raising awareness among them, and urging the international community to take effective and genuine steps in holding perpetrators of violations accountable and seeking justice and redress for victims. He emphasized that "transitional justice is a crucial aspect of achieving remedies, revealing the truth, and is an integral part of a comprehensive justice system." He added that "torture cannot be justified under any circumstances, including emergencies in the country." Even though Yemen is not a member state of the International Criminal Court, he mentioned the possibility of prosecuting foreign combatants belonging to ICC member states after referral from the Security Council.

At the end of the forum, the facilitator welcomed questions from the attendees, which were answered by the participants.