April 14, 2017:
Rights Radar condemns the death penalty for the Journalist Yahya Abdul-Raqeeb al-Jubaihi, 60, issued by a court controlled by the Houthi rebels and its ally the former Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sana’a, the capital.
The Houthi-affiliated court in Sana’a sentenced the Journalist al-Jubaihi to death on April 12, accusing him of communicating with “an enemy state”. He was sentenced just after one hearing session. Nor, he was granted a fair trial, neither allowed for defending himself since his arbitrary detention by the Houthi-Saleh armed forces onSeptember 6 because of his refusal to acknowledge the Houthi coup in 2015 against the internationally-recognized government in Yemen. Before his detention, al-Jubaihi was a media advisor in the Yemeni cabinet, and a media lecturer in Sana’a University.
Other 16 journalists are still being detained by the Houthi rebels in secret prisons with no fair trails for two years, their families are not being allowed to visit them. They are also being subjected to physical and psychological torture, and denied their basic rights in their detention facilities.
The Houthi-affiliated court has been holding sessions since last April 8 for other 36 detained journalists, who are opponents of the Houthi-Saleh coup in Sana’a, amongst them are academicians, with charges of “supporting the enemy” (the Saudi-led Arab Coalition). Similar to al-Jubaihi, their hearings lack the basic and conditions of the fair trial.
During the court sessions, the prosecutors loyal to the Houthi recommended the harshest penalties for the 36 detainees, some of the penalties expected to include more death sentences. The 36 journalists are being arbitrarily detained for more than two years, and being subjected to physical torture.
Rights Radar calls on the Houthi-Saleh forces to release the arbitrarily detainees and immediately end their trials, particularly the 36 detainees whose court hearing started last Saturday for fear of other death sentences similar to the journalist al-Jubaihi.
During the court hearing, some of the detainees said – according to a video recording obtained by Rights Radar – that they were subjected to the worst kinds of torture inside the Houthi prisons during the last two years. They say that their false confessions used by the prosecutors were forcefully extracted during the interrogators under severe torture.
“Traces of torture are all over my body, and the others [colleagues] are even worse than me” said Yosuf al-Bawab, a university professor and one of the 36 detainees, in front of the court. “We are deprived from seeing our families for the last period, and the Public Prosecution has not performed its basic duties and visited us even for once to get to know our situations. This is the first time to see the sun…Our bodies received lots of pain, and beatings,” he added.
According to Yemeni legal experts, these hearings lack the fundamental legal procedures, and justice. They violated the Yemeni legislation and the international human rights treaties and agreements. In addition, they are conducted in exceptional times and circumstances where the entire judicial system get dysfunctional after the Houthi Coup d’état in Yemen. “These court sessions violate all principles essential to guarantee a fair trial,” they added.
Rights Radar calls all international organizations concerned of freedom of expression and human rights to quickly move to put a pressure to cancel the issued sentence against the journalist al-Jubaihi and stop the hearing sessions against the others, and immediately release them. Thousands of activists, politicians, and journalists are still arbitrarily detained in the prisons controlled by Saleh-Houthi forces since the takeover of Sana’a in 2015.
Rights Radar is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that monitors, promotes and defends human rights in the Arab world. It was founded by a group of Arab human rights defenders and activists. We monitor, document and report violations against human rights, as well as provide advocacy and legal support for victims and capacity building for human rights activists.