Amnesty denounces Yemen’s poor human rights record [Archives:2007/1054/Local News]

May 28 2007

Moneer Al-Omari
SANA'A, May 26 ) Amnesty International recently issued a report about the state of the world's human rights and freedoms. The organization recorded human rights violations in nearly all countries worldwide; however, the volume of violations was relative to each particular country.

Violations included killings, detentions outside of the law, violence against women and children, forced displacement, etc. Yemen wasn't exempt, as the organization registered numerous human rights violations.

Within the context of the U.S.-led “War on Terror,” Yemen arrested dozens of individuals, holding them in secret detentions without trial. The organization criticized governments, including Yemen's, for authorizing their various security apparatuses and institutions to detain and terrorize their political foes and the criminally suspect.

Those who stood trial were brought before specialized and military courts instead of trying them before the appropriate courts, something considered a violation of detainees' basic rights.

Although both European and other foreign observation groups described Yemen's presidential and local elections as “genuine and open,” several rival party supporters were arrested and opposition web sites were blocked either partially or completely.

Moreover, women largely were denied rights to be nominated and all political parties lagged behind in complying with their earlier promises to nominate women. Women candidates comprised just two percent of the total number of candidates in local elections.

Dozens of Houthi followers, whom Amnesty describes as members of the Zaidi community, were detained following the second Sa'ada war. Most were later freed after President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued a general amnesty; however, the rest remained in jails.

Hundreds have been killed in the four Sa'ada wars between 2004 and 2007l however, the exact number remains unrecorded as both independent observers and the media have been denied access to affected areas in Sa'ada.

Those known as the Sana'a Cell-37 and charged with plotting to target Yemeni military personnel and civil institutions faced formal trial and were denied the right to appeal. One was sentenced to death while the others received varying prison terms.

The list of violations grows regarding those arrested and detained for links to terrorist organizations, as those suspected of such are detained without charge or trial. They also are denied access to lawyers or courts.

Such detention wasn't confined just to Yemenis, but included foreigners in Yemen as well. Five Europeans were arrested in October 2006 for allegedly smuggling arms to Somalia, but later released without charge.

Additionally, three Yemeni detainees, who represent the largest group at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, died in detention, with U.S. authorities claiming they committed suicide. Additionally, those Yemenis released by U.S. authorities were re-jailed upon their arrival in Yemen.

The Amnesty report also criticized abuse of power and little or no effort by security forces to offer suspects the opportunity to surrender, as in the case of Al-Qaeda prison escapees Fawaz Al-Rubi'e and Mohammed Al-Dailami, who reportedly were fired upon by helicopter gunfire The two were among a group of more than 20 Al-Qaeda suspects who escaped from political security in February 2006.

Under what it described as “prisoners of conscience,” the report recorded numerous violations. Relatives of those suspected or wanted by authorities also were detained in an effort to force the wanted suspects to surrender.

Moreover, the report denounced the curtailing of freedom of expression in Yemen, citing the Yemen Observer, Al-Hurriya and Al-Rai Al-Aam newspapers as examples of both publishers and reporters being tried for republishing the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).

It further denounced the 2005 killing of refugees as Yemeni security forces brutally used arms to disperse dozens of refugees and asylum seekers during a sit-in outside of the Sana'a-based United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office. Seven refugees were killed and several others sustained serious to minor injuries.

Amnesty International is a worldwide movement struggling for internationally recognized rights. It is an organization whose main aim is to prevent and end grave abuse of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression and freedom from discrimination within the context of its work to promote all human rights.