Media Briefing: Yemen

A summary of key Amnesty International human rights concerns on Yemen:

UNFAIR TRIALS AND PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE
In recent years hundreds of people in Yemen have been jailed after unfair trials.

Those the Yemeni authorities accuse of involvement with al-Qa'ida or of being supporters of the (now deceased) Shi’a cleric Hussain Badr al-Din al-Huthi (from the restive northern province of Sa’da) have frequently been subjected to unfair trials before the country’s notorious Specialised Criminal Court.

Others who have been brought before unfair courts include people accused of spying for Iran or Egypt, and an artist jailed for 18 months for insulting the president after he satirised him and the Yemeni authorities’ crackdown on protests in the south of the country.

TORTURE
There are reports that many of those detained have been tortured into making false confessions and that their lawyers were then denied documents when trying to mount a proper defence.

Torture from police officers is so common that they appear to act with virtual impunity - both in political cases and ordinary criminal ones. Reported types of abuse include beating with sticks, burning with cigarettes, prolonged suspension by the wrists or ankles, being stripped naked and subjected to threats of sexual abuse, as well as punching, kicking and other forms of physical attack.

PERSECUTION OF JOURNALISTS
Yemen’s persecution of journalists has been a serious concern to Amnesty for many years.

The latest case is that of Muhammad al-Maqalih, who was abducted by plain-clothed members of Yemen’s security forces in October. Like many Yemeni journalists before him, Al-Maqalih’s “crime” seems to have been to criticise the Yemeni government for its conduct in dealing with violence in Sa’da. Three months after his abduction there is still no firm word on Al-Maqalih’s whereabouts but there are indications that he is being held in secret detention in a Ministry of Defence prison.

In 2008 Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani, a prominent Yemeni journalist, was sentenced to six years imprisonment after being convicted by the Specialised Criminal Court in relation to his coverage of the Sa’da conflict. Within days of his imprisonment Amnesty gave Al-Khaiwani its “Special Award For Human Rights Journalism Under Threat” in recognition of his plight.

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights
Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Yemen are not free to marry a partner of their choice and girls as young as eight are forced into marriages with older men. Wives are generally under the total control of their husbands and may only leave the family home with his permission (article 40 of the Personal Status Law). Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s testimony in court is worth only half that of a man, the families of murdered Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are entitled to half the compensation of a man’s family and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are denied equal inheritance rights. There are lenient sentences for men who murder wives in so-called “honour killings”.

DEATH PENALTY
There are hundreds of prisoners on death row in Yemen, including Children's rights. In 2008 at least 13 people were executed (execution is carried out by shooting); this was the 11th highest number of executions in the world in 2008.

View latest press releases