The undersigned Yemeni and international human rights organizations strongly condemn the arbitrary arrest of journalist Hala Fouad Badawi by Hadhramaut Province security authorities. She has been imprisoned for more than a month.
The organizations call for her immediate release and dropping of all charges against her. The security and other local authorities behind this arrest are responsible for her physical and psychological safety. Badawi, a young journalist active on social media, was arrested on December 30, 2021 by a Military intelligence affiliated security unit. She was imprisoned in the Military Intelligence prison before being transferred on January 5 to the Central Prison in Hadhramaut.
We denounce the arbitrary and illegal measures taken to detain and incarcerate Ms Badawi. All kinds of pressure exercised against the journalist or her family is also decried. Press sources and human rights organizations in Yemen report that she was attacked and forcibly removed from her car near the Hadhramaut Military Region Command and taken to the Military Intelligence headquarters in Hadramaut where she was held in secret for two days. The Military Region Command denied that she was being detained there. On the third day, the office of Hadhramaut governor issued a statement acknowledging her detention in the Military Intelligence prison and accusing her of communicating with a foreign country. On the fifth day, she was transferred to the central prison in Mukalla, the capital of Hadhramaut Province. Her family members were also prevented from visiting her except once. Local security forces raided her family's home in a forcible, intimidatory manner, confiscating the mobile phones of family members. was stormed, the family got intimidated, and their phones were confiscated.
We fear that the local and security authorities in Hadhramaut have arrested Ms Badawi over her posts on social media pages criticizing corruption and demanding better living conditions. We wish to draw the attention of the State and central and local institutions to their obligations to protect journalists and civil activists, including those opposed to government policies and programmes. What Ms Badawi has been subjected to a flagrant violation of her right to freedom of opinion and expression, which is guaranteed by the Yemeni constitution and international treaties and covenants by which Yemen is bound.
Until a month since her arrest, Badawi's case has not yet been referred to the court, and the Criminal Prosecution has not filed a case against her as her family was informed after she was transferred to the Central Prison.
These practices constitute a violation of Yemen’s international human rights obligations. For example, General Comment No. 34/2011 issued by the Human Rights Committee warns of the intimidating effects of arresting journalists who perform their legitimate functions on freedom of expression.
We call on the security authorities in Hadhramaut to immediately release journalist Hala Badawi. The undersigned organizations underscore the frequency of violations committed against journalists in Yemen which have escalated dramatically during the years of war, reaching more than two thousand violations, including 50 killings. We call on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to stop all contravention committed against Yemeni journalists and media outlets. We warn that the infringement of the authorities in Hadhramaut against anyone who disagrees with them is not subject to a statute of limitations, and we call for punishing the perpetrators, including people who order the commission of these crimes, conspire, help or cover up for them, as stated by the Human Rights Council in its decision number 45/18 dated October 6, 2020.