June 13, 2013

On 10 June 2013 the Gulf Centre for Human Rights Centre (GCHR) issued a report alleging a widespread pattern of attacks on human rights defenders and journalists in Yemen.

Since Yemen has been engaged in a process of transition to full democracy, the security services have intimidated journalists, allowed the judicial system to be used as a means of attack against them, and failed to investigate violence against human rights defenders. The GCHR has documented multiple cases of attacks, some by the state security forces, but with many being perpetrated by non-state actors. The GCHR calls for an end to the harassment.

Prior to the overwhelmingly peaceful revolution in 2011, attacks were commonplace but easily identified as emanating from the oppressive government of former President Saleh, says the GCHR report. The present pattern of attacks is more unpredictable and their source much harder to identify. “This gives rise to the requirement of even greater vigilance by the authorities to investigate, prevent and punish this wrongdoing, yet the authorities in Yemen have failed to act to investigate the widespread pattern of attacks in the transitional period,” comments GCHR Advisory Board member Melanie Gingell, a British lawyer who carried out a mission to Yemen in April.

Mohamed Al-Absi is a blogger and journalist who specialises in publishing the documents leaked to him from government departments about corrupt practices. He is now on trial on defamation charges and faces many years in jail if convicted. He has exposed corruption at the highest levels over the years and there are now well-founded concerns for his well-being should he be convicted.

– Judge Ahmed Saif Hashid, currently a member of parliament, has fought for social justice in Yemen but was recently the victim of a brutal beating by security forces when he joined a protest of injured people campaigning for their rights outside parliament. There has been no investigation of this attack.

– A Yemen based organisation, Freedom Foundation, has catalogued 109 attacks on journalists by mid-April 2013, including an attempt to bomb the offices of a newspaper, an attempt to assassinate a local journalist in the south of the country, shots fired at the car of a journalist working for the Times newspaper, and threats to cut out the tongue of a local newspaper editor.

– The journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye remains in prison following his arrest and conviction in relation to an article he wrote exposing the aftermath of an US cluster bomb attack on a suspected Al-Qaeda target, thereby discrediting the previous claim of responsibility for that attack by the government of former President Saleh.

The full report is available online in English and Arabic at:

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