(Beirut) – All parties to the conflict in Yemen should immediately release anyone arbitrarily detained and to reveal what happened to those who have been forcibly disappeared since the conflict began in late 2014, Human Rights Watch, Mwatana for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said today in a joint statement.
“While the recent release of almost 900 detainees by the Houthis and Saudi Arabia was a significant move by both parties, it is only a start,” said Niku Jafarnia, Yemen and Bahrain researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Many people remain arbitrary detained or forcibly disappeared, when they should be reunited with their families just like those who were recently released.”
The armed conflict in Yemen began in 2014 but escalated militarily in March 2015, when a Saudi- and UAE-led coalition intervened in support of the internationally recognized government forces against the Houthis, the de facto authorities in Sanaa and much of northern Yemen. Throughout the conflict, all parties have carried out enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests.
Men and women have been targeted for their political and religious beliefs or their membership in a religious or political group. Journalists, other media professionals, aid workers, and human rights defenders have also been targeted. All parties to the conflict have committed grave human rights abuses against women, who are often victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and children, including child recruitment and use by armed groups.
Mwatana for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, FIDH, and Amnesty International have all documented numerous incidents of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance against civilians by all parties to the conflict in Yemen since 2015 until now.
Despite a lack of evidence of wrongdoing, the warring parties continue to detain and forcibly disappear civilians. Some have been given grossly unfair trials on trumped-up charges and effectively used as bargaining chips in deals to exchange detainees. Many of these individuals have been held incommunicado, tortured, and subjected to cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.
The detainees have been accused of bogus charges in violation of their right to fair trial and to liberty and security of person. Moreover, detention centers are often overcrowded and unsanitary, with cells lacking adequate ventilation, toilets, and shower facilities.
The international community should use its influence to pressure the parties to the conflict to put an end to the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of civilians, the groups said.
The organizations are:
International Federation for Human Rights
Human Rights Watch
Mwatana for Human Rights