Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties is deeply concerned about the increasing violations of armed militias against journalists in Yemen and calls for decisive action to protect them from war.
The Council has received dozens of complaints in recent days about increasing abuses from Ansar Allah, known as the Houthis and the UAE-backed Transitional Council forces, against journalists in several areas of Yemen.
The complaints included journalists being arbitrarily detained, kidnapped, threatened, breaking into their homes and shooting at the headquarters of a local newspaper, which constituted serious violations of public freedoms, especially the right to freedom of expression and press freedom.
One of the complaints was the kidnapping of the journalist Ihab al-Shawafi at a checkpoint in the Al-Huban area in the eastern suburb of Taiz, while he was heading to Sanaa last week.
The Houthi group continues to arrest the journalist Abdul Hafez Samadi, who was arrested after intercepting his way in a street in the capital Sanaa arbitrarily four days ago.
This coincides with the complaint of journalists and bloggers on the imposition of the Houthi group imposed tight restrictions on their work and link their movements and exercise their functions in advance coordination with specialists in the Houthi media.
In Taiz, military intelligence forces arrested three journalists in the second half of last month, before releasing them after days of pressure and demands from human rights activists in the city.
Yemeni state television cameraman Anwar Abdullah Laklaf was abducted by forces of the Transitional Council in Shabwa province in southeastern Yemen before being released days after his abduction.
Since the control of the Transitional Council, Aden has witnessed violations against journalists and raids on government media institutions, most notably the 14th of October newspaper and the Saba Agency, as well as forcing the employees of the official newspaper of the agency to print numbers promoting the council’s events and speeches.
Journalists in Aden complained of harassment and threats during their media work in monitoring violations against civilians and military loyal to the country’s legitimate government.
Last Thursday, anonymous gunmen opened fire on the headquarters of the newspaper “Aden al-Ghad”, in the Mansoura district of the interim capital Aden, causing severe damage to the building where the newspaper is based without any casualties.
The newspaper’s editorial board expressed deep regret for the attack on its headquarters in Aden, which “came after a campaign of incitement against the background of its independent media activity.”
In July, the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate (YJS) reported 62 cases of violations of media freedoms during the first half of the year, including murder, assault, threats, confiscation, torture, intimidation, attempted murder, prosecution and the blocking of news sites. Official media of their salaries since 2016.
A census published by the International Reporters Without Borders documented the disappearance of at least 20 journalists in Yemen since 2015, making the country one of the worst areas for journalists.
Accordingly, the Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties calls on all parties to the conflict in Yemen and the countries that support them to protect press freedoms and respect the right of expression and the immediate release of all detained and abducted journalists, and not to be exposed to journalists because of their professional identity.
The Council warns that violations affecting the profession of journalism and freedom of media work are escalating at a worrying pace in Yemen, which represents a “clear disregard for the Law on the Protection of Journalists, which requires stopping the involvement of journalists in the conflict and not dealing with them aggressively.”
GCRL highlights that any exposure or harassment of journalists in Yemen contradicts the most basic international legal norms and conventions that guarantee freedom of the press and criminalize assault and attack, calling for ensuring the investigation and prosecution of all those involved in violations against journalists and their work.
The council also calls on the international community to take urgent action and take immediate measures to stop abuses against journalists and media workers in Yemen, including ensuring the release of detainees, disclosing the fate of missing persons and providing protection for journalists and other civilians as a legal and moral duty.