Yemeni Press, Freedom of Expression vs. Assassination and Abduction
Yemen – Sana’a
Yemeni journalists have been dealing with complex conditions for many years due to the disputes between the different parties, as these parties consider the journalists as rivals while doing their usual media work.
The journalists are vulnerable to unfair acts against freedom of opinion and expression and to farcical political trials, that don’t grant them the fundamental rights to defend themselves or the presence of their attorneys. The court intentionally holds closed sessions during the prosecution of journalists.
The journalists abducted by the Houthi intelligence services suffer grim conditions, and they are subjected to the most inhuman methods of torture and lack of health care. The Houthis reject to free the journalists who have release orders from their authorities; besides, there is significant politicization of the freedoms of media files by foreign parties amid the evilness of the arbitrary acts against journalists.
Yemeni journalists continue to encounter systematic crackdowns, leading to the disappearance of the free voices and creating fear, within many, of the consequences of freedom of expression whether in the media or on social media platforms, despite the ongoing appeal to international organizations dealing with freedom of expression and opinion to intervene and defend Yemeni journalists, revoke their trial on the ground of their views and journalistic writings, and neutralize the media persons from the disputes among the different parties in Yemen.
The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate condemns the persistent abuse against the journalists and the abduction of the journalists who perform their duties in compliance with the Yemeni constitution, and it calls on the legitimate government and the Houthi group to free all arrested and abducted journalists, and to follow the international acts and conventions that ensure freedom of the media.
Similarly, the International Federation of Journalists actively supports the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate to ensure freedom of the press and the welfare of the journalists in Yemen. The International Federation and the Syndicate of Journalists have sent a joint message to the Secretary-General of the United Nations asking him to protect the lives of the journalists and demanding freedom of all detained journalists in Yemen following a decision by a Houthi court to execute a significant number of journalists on charges of treason and spying for foreign countries.
All the dominant power in Yemen have committed numerous forms of recorded violations of press freedoms to limit freedoms of opinion and expression to different degrees, as each side regards journalists and supporters of freedom of opinion and expression from their own perspective.
2020 was a challenging year for the media and freedom of the press in Yemen, as 11 death sentences were handed down to Yemeni journalists in the form of politicized trials that lacked the simplest legal acts and processes and were unjust as the imprisoned journalists were not permitted to meet their attorneys, except for certain meetings during investigation and trial sessions.
The Media Freedom Observatory in Yemen has registered 143 violations against freedoms of media in Yemen during 2020, ranging from killing, injury, abduction, assault, and media institutions attack. The observatory reported that the most notable registered violation was the killing of three journalists, Nabil Al-Qaiti, Adeeb Al-Janani, and Badil Al-Buraihi, and the death sentence for 11 journalists, including a female journalist.
The observatory stated that besides the killing, 7 cases of abduction, 10 cases of injuries, 11 cases of arrest, 11 cases of detention, 15 cases of threats, 4 cases of suspension of job, 5 cases of violations against media institutions, and 66 other cases were registered.
The Houthi group led the list of perpetrators of violations against journalists in Yemen, with 70 of the total recorded cases, 44 violations committed by parties aligned with the Yemeni government, 22 violations committed by unknown individuals, 3 cases by parties associated with the Southern Transitional Council militants, and 4 cases committed by certain influential.
The registered violations against journalists have been spread to a range of governorates, including 37 cases of violation in Al-Jawf city, 30 cases in Sana’a, 22 cases in Taiz, 17 cases in Aden, 15 cases in Hadhramaut, 10 cases in Marib, 3 cases in Ibb, 2 cases in Shabwah and Al Dhale’e, and 1 case in Hodeidah, Lahj, Al-Bayda, Socotra, and Abyan.