Yemen Human Rights

Human Rights Concerns

Protestors in several cities came under attack by the security forces and other pro-government demonstrators. At least 100 people have been killed during peaceful demonstrations in various cities in Yemen since early February 2011.

Torture and other ill-treatment are widespread practices in Yemen and are committed, generally with impunity, against both detainees held in connection with politically motivated acts or protests and ordinary criminal suspects.

Amnesty International has longstanding concerns about the use of the death penalty in Yemen, particularly as death sentences are often passed after proceedings, which fall short of international standards for fair trial.

Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice and were inadequately protected against domestic and other violence.

The human rights situation in Yemen has deteriorated rapidly this year. The most shocking manifestation of this has been the brutal repression of protests calling for reform, and increasingly for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stand down, fuelled by frustration at corruption, unemployment and repression of freedoms in the country. At least 100 people have been killed and large number injured during peaceful demonstrations in various cities in Yemen since early February 2011.

The most deadly attack against protesters took place on March 18, when an apparently coordinated sniper attack on protesters in Sana'a reportedly left around 52 people dead and more than 200 wounded. The incident took place following Friday prayers as protesters gathered near Sana'a University and were reported to have been chanting anti-government slogans when at around 1.30pm local time, armed men in plain clothes, believed to be members of the security forces, started shooting live rounds from the top of nearby buildings.

Amnesty International has called on Yemen government to stop its security forces using excessive force after protesters and journalists were reportedly attacked at peaceful demonstrations around the country.

Scores of protesters who were arrested following demonstrations in various cities are being held incommunicado and are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Amnesty International is concerned that they may be held solely for the peaceful expression of their right to freedom of expression and assembly. The Yemeni authorities must release all the people who have been detained as a result of their participation in peaceful demonstrations.

In the midst of growing call for reforms and changes, the crackdown on freedom of expression has worsened. The Yemeni government has become increasingly intolerant of the independent media and any criticism. Journalists, editors and publishers have been detained, held incommunicado, ill-treated and jailed on spurious charges after unfair trials. Security forces raided newspaper offices and television stations and shot at demonstrators peacefully protesting against repression of free speech. Newspapers have also been suspended and news websites blocked.

Torture and other ill-treatment are widespread practices in Yemen and are committed, generally with impunity, against both detainees held in connection with politically motivated acts or protests and ordinary criminal suspects. Methods of torture and other ill-treatment are reported to include beatings all over the body with sticks, rifle butts, punching, kicking, prolonged suspension by the wrists or ankles, burning with cigarettes, being stripped naked, denial of food and prompt access to medical help, as well as threats of sexual abuse.

Torture and other ill-treatment are often carried out as a means of obtaining "confessions" during interrogation. The court generally accepts such "confessions" without being investigated adequately, if at all. This is despite constitutional guarantees and provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibit the admissibility of such evidence. Most torture and other ill-treatment take place during the initial period of detention by security forces, when detainees are generally not provided access to a lawyer or to their families.

Women in Yemen face systemic discrimination and endemic violence with devastating consequences for their lives. Their rights are routinely violated because Yemeni laws as well as tribal and customary practices treat them as second-class citizens. Women are not free to marry who they want and some are forced to marry when they are children, sometimes as young as eight. Once married, a woman must obey her husband and obtain his permission just to leave the house. Women are valued as half the worth of men when they testify in court or when their families are compensated if they are murdered. They are also denied equal treatment when it comes to inheritance and are often denied it completely. Women are dealt with more harshly than men when accused of "immoral" acts, and men are treated leniently when they murder female relatives in "honor killings". Despite this, recent years have seen some positive developments for women's rights. For example, the government has been engaged with intergovernmental bodies and reported to the UN committee overseeing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, to which Yemen is a party. Most significantly, women themselves have helped to create a vibrant civil society, and women's non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have achieved some success in some campaigns for reforms.

The government continues to use the death penalty extensively and in defiance both of the international trend and its own laws. It continues to use the death penalty against children, the mentally disabled, and often after unfair trials.

Yemen Newsroom

February 5, 2019 • Press Release

Yemen: UAE recklessly supplying militias with windfall of Western arms

An open source investigation published by Amnesty International today highlights a growing danger in Yemen’s conflict as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recklessly arms militias with a range of advanced weaponry. The investigation, “When arms go astray: Yemen’s deadly new threat of arms diversion to militias,” shows how the UAE has become a major conduit …

December 13, 2018 • Press Release

Senate Resolution Is Welcome First Step, But More is Needed

Responding to the passage in the United States Senate today of a Joint Resolution Supporting a Diplomatic Solution in Yemen and Condemning the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Philippe Nassif, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA stated: “Today’s vote is a step in the right direction, but a timely, …

November 16, 2018 • Press Release

UN: Hodeidah’s embattled civilians on a knife-edge as Security Council discusses Yemen

Petrified civilians in Hodeidah face a likely onslaught unless the UN Security Council acts today to press the warring parties in Yemen to protect them and ensure full humanitarian access, Amnesty International said. The Security Council will discuss Yemen’s conflict and humanitarian crisis at 3PM EST. “Even with the lull in fighting in recent days, …

November 12, 2018 • Press Release

Yemen: Eyewitness describes terrifying scenes as explosions rock hospital in central Hodeidah

Hundreds of medical workers and patients, including a malnourished woman carrying her daughter in a surgical robe and a man still hooked up to a catheter, fled in terror as a series of large explosions rocked a hospital in central Hodeidah yesterday, according to an eyewitness who spoke to Amnesty International. Just before noon on …

November 7, 2018 • Press Release

Huthi gunmen raid hospital as Hodeidah’s civilians face imminent onslaught in Yemen

Civilians in Yemen’s western port city of Hodeidah will pay a terrible price amid the battle engulfing their city unless warring parties act immediately to protect them from the fighting, Amnesty International warned today. In an extremely worrying development, Huthi fighters arrived at a hospital in Hodeidah and recently took up positions atop a hospital roof, placing numerous civilians …

August 28, 2018 • Press Release

Yemen: Scathing UN report underscores need for arms embargo, tougher scrutiny

Responding to a scathing report published today by the United Nations Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (GEE) which concludes that all parties to the conflict may be guilty of war crimes, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, said: “The GEE, in its first report, confirms what we have known for the past …

July 11, 2018 • Report

Disappearances and torture in southern Yemen detention facilities must be investigated as war crimes

Justice remains elusive a year after a network of secret prisons was first exposed in southern Yemen, Amnesty International said in a new report today that documents egregious violations going unchecked, including systemic enforced disappearance and torture and other ill-treatment amounting to war crimes.

June 21, 2018 • Report

Yemen: Restrictions to life-saving supplies putting millions of civilians at risk

Millions of lives are at risk because the entry of essential goods such as food, fuel and medical supplies into war-torn Yemen is being restricted by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and their distribution then delayed by the country’s Huthi de facto authorities, Amnesty International warned in a new report released today. The report, Stranglehold, documents …

June 13, 2018 • Press Release

Yemen: Attack on Hodeidah threatens civilian lives and lifesaving humanitarian aid

Responding to the news that Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition have launched an offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director Lynn Malouf said: “The assault on Hodeidah could have a devastating impact for hundreds of thousands of civilians – not just in the city but …

June 8, 2018 • Press Release

Yemen: ICRC withdrawal marks ‘bleak’ new low in conflict that devastates civilians

In response to a decision by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to pull 71 staff out of Yemen due to ongoing insecurity, threats and blocks to their work, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said: “It is an unquestionably bleak moment when humanitarian workers, who are in Yemen to save lives, …