Killing and detention top human rights violations in Yemen [Archives:2006/962/Reportage]

July 10 2006

Mohammed Al-Jabri
The Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights (YOHR) has recently issued its first annual report on human rights for 2005. Over seven chapters, the report reviews the situation of human rights violations, including democracy, rights of women, children, and refugees, freedom of the press, and self-expression.

Murder cases comprised 854 deaths in 2002; 878 in 2003; 788 in 2004 according to official figures, the report said. 2005, however, witnessed the largest number in comparison to previous years; 800 deaths were registered, as well as hundreds of casualties, during 11 months of the year. The YOHR observed that most of the deaths were deliberate acts of revenge. Armed clashes between government forces and followers of Al-Houthi in Sa'ada also claimed the lives of hundreds of people.

The report criticized the state for not curbing corruption, poverty and unemployment – factors responsible for suicides among youths. “The rights of life were also breached indirectly as a result of the spread of poverty and corruption. Many resort to taking their own lives because of their suffering and the lack of a clear policy on the part of the state to solve their problems by providing job opportunities and fighting corruption,” states the report. Official accounts state that suicide is more common among females than males.

In 2003 and 2004, the phenomenon of suicide spread remarkably, where 588 cases were observed. This number seems larger than previous years.

A country rife with arms, Yemen also witnesses killings among citizens. 704 cases of deliberate killing were registered in 2003, and 664 in 2004.


Security authorities resort to detaining opposition politicians or citizens with opposing opinions, according to the report. Tribal groups, similarly, detain members of other tribes, and sometimes detain foreigners by means of pressuring the state to respond to their demands. In comparison, those detained by tribal groups are not subjected to physical torture and/or murder.

Year 2005 saw a number of forced disappearances and detentions. Twenty-eight-year fisherman Ghayour Awad is a case in point. Journalist Ahmed Al-Dhaheri was detained in the capital, where eyewitnesses stated that soldiers forced him to get into a military vehicle. Moqbil Al-Ani and his brother Mohammed were detained by soldiers from Brigade 127 based in the Amran governorate. Human rights activist Khalid Ali Mahfoudh was detained in the Dhamar governorate, and military officers were thought to be behind his detention. Yahya Saleh Al-Zaidi was detained by Mechanical Brigade 25 based in the Marib governorate, and then sent to the political security detention where no one was allowed to visit him. Rasef Hasan, a university student, was detained by the Special Forces while he was practicing sport.

Although the Yemeni constitution secures the personal freedoms of individuals, there are indications of cases of detentions without legal reasons, clear charges, and judicial sentences. The human rights committee's report at the Shoura Council states that there are prison inmates of different nationalities who have been jailed beyond their imprisonment term. The same report makes it clear that female prison inmates who can't speak Arabic are not given any assistance to overcome the language barrier, and that there are 290 such women imprisoned in the Central Prison of Sana'a and some 800 others all over the country)most of them are poor and have served double their prison sentences and are kept in prison until they pay their debts and dues.

Aggressive measures against protestors represent yet another trend. During the protests against the hike in fuel prices, security forces clashed with protestors who took to streets all over the county. Tens of them were shot at, and numerous others were detained. Observers think that the protests were at first organized peacefully but with the interference of security forces, they turned into riots. “The shooting at protestors by security authorities and not presenting those who fired shots to the judiciary represent the extent of not respecting lives confiscating journalists' cameras during the coverage of those protests represents another violation against the right of transferring information and freedom of press. In addition, a number of journalists were detained and insulted, which contradicts the law that secures freedom of expression,” says the report.