Geneva Council For Rights and Liberties strongly condemns the death sentence and imprisonment issued by Houthi-run court against ten journalists who have been detained for over 5 years, and demands the reverse of the judgment the suspension of the execution.
GCRL stated that the Sana’a-based Specialized Criminal Court which has been under the control of Houthi group since 2014, handed down a death sentence against the four journalists Abdel-khaleq Omran, Harith Salih Hamid, Akram al-Walidi and Tawfiq Muhammad Thabit al-Mansuri, while six other detained journalists were sentenced to time served in prison and three years of police supervision.
According to the Geneva Council, the ruling issued against the journalists lacks the most basic standards of justice and have not fulfilled guarantees of fair trial and due process as stated in international covenants and treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which considers the right to a fair trial to be a standard of international human rights law. It also considers these convictions a dangerous escalation against freedom of the press in Yemen, and constitute a new violation committed by the Houthi group who keeps imposing severe restrictions on the work of journalists through arrests and enforced disappearances.
Over the past six years, the Houthi group has carried out arbitrary detentions, including political opponents, students, journalists, activists, and members of the Baháʼí community. It is worth noting that most detainees were brought before the Sana’a-based Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) – a court traditionally reserved for terrorism-related cases –, although it lost its judicial status in accordance with a decision issued by the Supreme Judicial Council of the Yemeni government that recognized its legitimacy internationally.
Geneva Council For Rights and Liberties warns of the Houthis control which seems to become a tool of political revenge and a way to suppress freedom of expression and association by issuing harsh sentences that include the death penalty after grossly unfair trials.
The Geneva Council calls on the Houthis to reverse the death sentence of the four journalists and to immediately release them and also urges them to stop issuing the death penalty which is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
The International Human Rights Council pointed out any incidence of harassment and attacks on journalists in Yemen contravenes international law that guarantees freedom of the press and criminalizes any act of abuse of this recognized right. GCRL calls for urgent international action to put an immediate end to the grave violations and to ensure those responsible for are being held accountable.