All parties to the conflict in Yemen continued to commit violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses with impunity. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition, supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government, and Huthi forces continued to carry out attacks that unlawfully killed and injured civilians and destroyed civilian objects. All parties to the conflict carried out arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, harassment, torture and other ill-treatment, and unfair trials of individuals, targeted solely for their political, religious or professional affiliations, or for their peaceful activism. The parties to the conflict impeded the flow of life-saving goods, including food, medicine and fuel, and Huthi forces continued to impose arbitrary restrictions on humanitarian aid agencies. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic put further pressure on an already depleted health care system, which had only 50% of its hospitals and health care facilities still operating, as compared to 2016. Additionally, a 50% drop in the humanitarian response fund compared to 2019 further compounded the effects of the pandemic on what was left of the health system, increased food insecurity and limited access to clean water, sanitation and public health. People with disabilities and migrant workers were impacted disproportionately by the combined effects of the conflict and the pandemic. Death sentences were handed down for a wide range of crimes, and executions were carried out.
In October, following pressure by the Saudi Arabia and other coalition partners, in the Human Right Council, not enough states voted to extend the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts (GEE) on Yemen. In December, in light of the failure of the UN Human Rights Council, more than 60 groups urged the UN general assembly act swiftly to establish an investigative mechanism to gather and preserve evidence on serious human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war in Yemen.
All parties to the conflict continued to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law with impunity, including indiscriminate attacks which killed and injured civilians and destroyed and damaged civilian objects.
Huthi forces used imprecise weapons in populated areas, placed internationally banned anti-personnel mines in farmland, wells and villages, and shelled indiscriminately, causing hundreds of civilian casualties. In March 2020, indiscriminate attacks by Huthi forces hit al-Thawra hospital, the largest public hospital in Ta’iz city and in April, the Central Prison in Ta’iz, killing five women and a child, and injuring at least 11 civilians.
The Saudi-led coalition carried out multiple air strikes in the north, killing at least 49 civilians, including six children, between June and August 2020. The UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen determined that these incidents warranted further investigation, noting that the high number of civilian casualties raised questions around the proportionality of the attacks and whether the Saudi Arabia-led coalition took all necessary measures to protect civilians and minimize casualties. In August, an air strike hit a community college used by Huthi forces as a detention facility and killed 134 detainees and injured 40 others.
Amnesty International has documented over 40 coalition air strikes that appear to have violated international humanitarian law, many of which amount to war crimes. These have resulted in more than 500 civilian deaths and 400 civilian injured.
In November, the US government approved sales of 280 air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia. In addition, the US government proceeding with the $23 billion weapon sales to the UAE.
All parties to the conflict continued to suppress freedom of expression and association through arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, harassment, torture and other ill-treatment, and unfair trials.
In April 2020, the Huthi-run Specialized Criminal Court sentenced four journalists Akram al-Walidi, Abdelkhaleq Amran, Hareth Hamid and Tawfiq al-Mansouri to death after a deeply flawed trial based on trumped-up charges. The same month, the Court announced the release of six other journalists, including Salah al-Qaedi, who had been sentenced to three years of house arrest. The 10 journalists had been detained for five years without charge or trial.
In November 2021, the West Capital Municipality Court of First Instance in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, handed down a five-year prison sentence to actress and model Entisar Abdulrahman Al-Hammadi, 20-year-old, after convicting her of charges that included alleged prostitution and drug use. She was among four women sentenced to prison in violation of their rights.
The court also decided to convict her colleagues Yousra Ahmed Al-Nashiri, Mahaliah Abdulwahab Al-Baadani and Ruqaiya Ahmed Al-Sawadi on various charges, including alleged adultery. Al-Nashiri was sentenced to five years in prison, Al-Baadani was sentenced to three years in prison, and Al-Sawadi was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence.
Conditions in prisons and detention centers, including overcrowding, lack of access to health care and poor sanitation and hygiene, combined with the spread of COVID-19, exposed detainees to substantial health risks. The Yemeni authorities failed to take measures to protect detainees and curb the spread of the virus in prisons and detention centers by providing masks or other hygiene products.
Tawfiq al-Mansouri remained on death row as one of four journalists sentenced to death in 2020. He suffers from chronic illness including diabetes, kidney failure, heart problems, prostate inflammation and asthma, and in June he contracted COVID-19. The Huthi de facto authorities continued to deny him life-saving medical treatment despite his critical health condition.
All parties to the conflict continued to detain and torture hundreds of individuals targeted solely for their political, religious or professional affiliations or for their peaceful activism. Parties to the conflict also targeted journalists and human rights defenders, many since 2016. Detainees were held in unofficial detention centers and in dangerous conditions. For example, in Aden, the UAE-backed STC held detainees in a tin building and an underground cellar in Al Jala camp.
According to the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, the internationally recognized Yemeni government was responsible for ill-treatment, sometimes amounting to torture, of detainees in Ma’rib political security prison, including beatings, electric shocks and burning of genitals, threats of sterilization, and forcing detainees to crawl on broken glass.
Over 4 million people have been internally displaced due to the seven-year-old conflict. Serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes, and egregious human rights abuses by all parties to the conflict have contributed to the world’s worst human-made humanitarian crisis. Indiscriminate and other unlawful attacks have killed and injured civilians, destroying or damaging civilian homes, medical facilities, and infrastructure, among other civilian sites. These attacks and the simultaneous obstruction of humanitarian assistance have exacerbated the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and left millions of civilians ill, hungry and destitute. Moreover, the country is facing the imminent threat of large-scale famine, and as of June 2021, 16.2 million Yemenis are food insecure.
The COVID-19 pandemic in Yemen challenged an already fragile health care system. Compounded by a funding shortage, a blockade, obstruction of aid and a fuel crisis, hospitals lacked the means to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak leading to the resignation of health workers, hospital closures and the wide spread of the disease among the population. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned that the response to the pandemic and other diseases would cease in several governorates, affecting 18 million people, including 6 million children.
All parties to the conflict impeded access to humanitarian aid. According to the UN, in December 2021 approximately 80% of the population were in need of humanitarian aid and protection – with limited access to health care or clean water – and 20 million people were food insecure.
Parties to the conflict increased bureaucratic restrictions and interfered in aid projects, including blocking needs assessments. The escalation of fighting further restricted freedom of movement, impeding the delivery of aid.
In May, Huthi forces blocked containers belonging to the WHO and shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the COVID-19 response.
In September, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen warned that FSO Safer, an oil tanker moored near the port of Hodeidah, could explode or spill more than 1 million barrels of oil into the Red Sea, threatening an environmental, economic and humanitarian catastrophe. A previous agreement between the Huthi de facto authorities and UN to allow access to the UN experts to assess the oil tanker has folded and no action has been taken.
People with disabilities continued to face exclusion, inequality and violence, largely arising from the systematic failure of the Yemeni authorities, humanitarian organizations and donor states to guarantee their rights and respond to their needs.
The conflict further impoverished people with disabilities and resulted in the complete loss of the limited social security support they once received. People with disabilities also lacked access to information on the prevention of and protection from COVID-19, but no data specific to people with disabilities was gathered to determine the scale.
The COVID-19 pandemic worsened the already precarious situation of migrants in Yemen, who faced ongoing discrimination, stigmatization, forcible expulsion and abuse, including sexual violence.
Huthi forces detained migrants in poor conditions and denied them access to protection and asylum processes. When the pandemic spread, the Huthi authorities expelled thousands of migrants to Saudi Arabia, where they were detained in life-threatening conditions pending their repatriation.
The death penalty remained in force for many offences, and the authorities continued to use it as a way to silence dissent. Executions were carried out by all parties to the conflict. The Huthi-run Specialized Criminal Court sentenced individuals to death in their absence for treason.
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The Huthi armed group, supported by state security forces, has carried out a wave of arrests of its opponents, arbitrarily seizing critics at gunpoint and subjecting some to enforced disappearance as part of a chilling campaign to quash dissent in areas of Yemen under its control, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.
International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
Civilians in Yemen are bearing the brunt in the conflict raging between Huthi militias (and army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh), who seized control of the capital and large parts of the country September 2014, and anti-Huthi armed groups (and army units loyal to exiled President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi), who are supported by a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition.
This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.
Republic of Yemen Head of state Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi (replaced Ali Abdullah Saleh) Head of government Mohammed Salim Basindwa The human rights situation improved during the transition that followed …