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

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, …

May 16, 2018 • Press Release

Yemen: Fierce new offensive displaces tens of thousands of civilians from Hodeidah

Yemeni civilians are struggling to stay alive amid fierce ground and air attacks in the raging battle to retake western coastal governorates from Huthi armed group control, and the worst could be yet to come, Amnesty International warned after carrying out a field investigation in the south of the country. The organization interviewed 34 civilians …

April 18, 2018 • Report

Trump threat puts European role in lethal US drone strikes under new scrutiny

As the Trump administration prepares to further expand the US’s lethal drone program, increasing the risk of civilian casualties and unlawful killings, Amnesty International is calling on four European countries to urgently overhaul the crucial operational and intelligence assistance they provide to the program. Amnesty International and others have documented cases, under successive US administrations, where …

March 22, 2018 • Press Release

Yemen: Three years on, US and UK arms supplies to Saudi Arabia-led coalition are devastating civilian lives

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition attack with a US-manufactured bomb, which turned a civilian home into rubble and killed or injured six members of the same family, is the latest in a long string of potential war crimes Amnesty International has documented over the past three years of Yemen’s devastating conflict.

January 26, 2018 • Press Release

Yemen: ‘Heart-breaking’ mass drowning a symptom of devastating conflict and humanitarian crisis

Responding to reports that at least 30 Somali and Ethiopian refugees and migrants drowned after leaving the coast of south-western Yemen to flee back to Africa, Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research for the Middle East at Amnesty International, said the following.

November 17, 2017 • Press Release

USA, UK and France risk complicity in collective punishment of civilians in Yemen

The USA, UK and France must immediately cease supplying arms to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen, which is impeding humanitarian assistance of items indispensable to the survival of civilians, said Amnesty International today. According to the UN and humanitarian agencies food and medicine are being blocked and vital supplies will run out in a matter of weeks.