Violation of human rights at Sana’a Court of Appeal [Archives:2005/821/Front Page]

March 3 2005

Mohammed bin Sallam
Lawyer Mohammed Naji Allaw, Coordinator of Hood Organization for Rights and Freedoms was heavily cudgeled and smacked with gun breeches March 1st inside the hall of the Sana'a Court of Appeal by armed personnel of the army and the security guarding Judge Hamoud al-Hirdi, Head of the court. Allaw was bruised all over his body and was transferred to the doctor outside the court for medical treatment. Other lawyers, writers, journalists and representatives of political parties and NGOs were beaten amidst their attempt to save Allaw's life from the guards.

The incident happened in the mean of the courtroom before looking into the case of prisoner Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Shura Weekly which was awaiting a settlement on that day. The harassment was a response to Mr. Allaw's objection to the derogatory and humiliating labels the Judge used to describe the attendants for not standing up when the Judge entered the courtroom. In spite of the fact that many Yemenis find standing up as a gesture of respect and paying homage to the judge as grotesque is not common in Yemen.

This incident enraged lawyers and legalists in the Capital Secretariat several of whom gathered at the Lawyers Syndicate in the city center, denouncing the physical, psychological and moral harm against one of their prominent figures and many others along with him by the army and security elements in the precinct of the specialized court supposed to protect the law and safeguard people's rights and liberties.

The Yemen Times attended the sit-in for a while, and managed a few comments from the extremely incensed and angered lawyers:

“Assaults against journalists have recently increased in number both at police stations or at some courts especially the Court of Appeal, headed by Judge Hamoud al-Hirdi,” said Mohammed al-Kabouli, Speaker of the Yemen Lawyers Syndicate, Deputy President of the YLS.

He added: “I and my colleagues believe that if lawyers respect their profession, they will boycott this court (Capital Secretariat Court of Appeal) right from tomorrow.”

On the other hand, Mohammed Naji Allaw said: “We were really astonished to see many security and army elements, guarding the Judge, attacking us with cudgels and gun breeches while we were inside the courtroom, inside the building and inside the session hall. They attacked us indiscriminately and I was particularly targeted. In addition to the Judge's guards, the manager of the Judge's office participated in attacking me.”

He further mentioned: “all lawyers complain about this judge because he is insolent towards everybody. At every session, he utters words unexpected of a court's judge. He also circles himself with many guards, whom are actually from the army and not the security, which is unconventional of Yemeni judges. He exaggerates his motorcade. He has security cars driving in front and behind his car and there is a scout car further ahead scanning the way and paving the way for him as though he were the head of the state and not a judge.”

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Concerning the issue that should have been discussed at the court, of Abdul-Karim al-Khaiwani, Allaw said: “It is known that al-Khaiwani's case is a local and international concern. There is a visit by the German Chancellor to Yemen and the West is interested in such issues – arrests of journalists and persons of opinion. The Yemeni judiciary should have displayed more political sophistication. They should have taken the 1-day opportunity before Schroeder's visit to look into and settle the case and consequently release al-Khaiwani. This could have resolved the problem that gnawed at the Yemeni people and disreputed Yemen in the international community. What was performed by the court was political stupidity incarnate.”

On his part, Hafidh al-Bakari, Secretary General of the Yemen Journalist Syndicate expressed his condemnation at the attack against his fellow journalists and lawyers in the courtroom.

“What happened on March 1st, 2005 is unjustifiable. I wonder at security's vehement aggressiveness against journalists and lawyers. Right from the beginning, the guards who were present at every corner of the court prevented a large number of journalists from attending the session under the pretext of their having no IDs. The session was held in a small hall that could not accommodate 10% of the attendants. I also was surprised at the Judge's rigidity and tension as though he was still unsatisfied with the judicial violations against al-Khaiwani's constitutional rights. All were attacked without any respect for human rights in general and lawyers and journalists in particular.”

“We cherished a glimpse of hope that the Judiciary would rectify past mistakes against al-Khaiwani who appeared in chains before the court. The recent sorrowful developments however have killed the grain of hope that the Yemeni corrupt judicial system will ever be righted.”