Urgent Action Update: Court Sentences Four Journalists to Death (Yemen: UA 27.16)

April 21, 2020

A Huthi-aligned court in Sana’a handed down death sentences to four journalists following a grossly unfair trial. The four journalists have been detained with six others since 2015. During their detention the men were forcibly disappeared, held in intermittent incommunicado detention and in solitary confinement, and deprived of access to medical care. At least three of them were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.

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Mohamed Abdelsalam
Ansarullah Representative at Peace Talks
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @abdusalamsalah
Ambassador Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak
Embassy of the Republic of Yemen
2319 Wyoming Ave NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 965 4760 I Fax: 202 337 2017
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @YemenEmbassy_DC @BelovedAden
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Mr. Abdelsalam,

On 11 April 2020, the Sana’a based Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) sentenced to death four out of a group of ten journalists who had been awaiting trial since 2015. Akram al-Walidi, Abdelkhaleq Amran, Hareth Hamid and Tawfiq al-Mansouri were sentenced on the basis of trumped-up charges. The lawyer will appeal the ruling; however, the date of the next court session remains unknown.

In December 2018, after being questioned in the presence of their lawyers, the ten journalists were formally charged with a series of offenses, including spying, which carries the death penalty. The charges included “spying for Saudi Arabia”; “creating several websites on the internet and on social media”; and “broadcasting rumors, fake news and statements in support of the enemy Saudi Arabia and its allies against the Republic of Yemen”. The first court session took place on 9 December 2019; the lawyers were allowed to attend that session; but were subsequently barred from attending all the other court sessions, including the last one which resulted in the sentencing of the four journalists.

Since their detention in 2015, all 10 journalists have been suffering from a range of medical issues, including stomach and colon pain, hearing problems, hemorrhoids and headaches due to eyesight issues for which they have not received adequate medical attention. According to Abdelkhaleq Amran’s family, detainees held in adjacent cells in the Political Security Office (PSO) in Sana’a heard him screaming as he was being tortured, in November 2016.

I urge the Huthi de facto authorities to immediately quash these death sentences, drop all pending charges, and release all ten journalists. Pending their release, they must ensure they have legal representation, regular access to their families, and adequate medical care. They must also open an effective, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in view of holding any individuals responsible accountable.

Yours sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES