A new report on violations of media freedoms in Yemen has found that journalism remained a dangerous profession in the war-torn country in 2018.
The annual report, published January 1st by the Media Freedoms Observatory of the Studies and Economic Media Centre (SEMC), documented 144 violations against journalists and media organisations, including 12 cases of killings.
In addition to murder, violations included injury, assault, kidnapping and attacks on media organisations, the report said.
All parties to the conflict were responsible for the mistreatment of journalists, the report said, with the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) topping the list, having committed 84 violations of the total cases recorded.
Pro-government parties were responsible for 30 violations against the media, unidentified individuals for 14, and Arab coalition forces for five. Eleven were attributed to other parties.
Violations against the media
In addition to the 12 murders, violations against the media included 43 cases of kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, 11 cases of injury, six attempted murders, 16 detentions, 10 assaults, nine dismissals from work, the report said.
They included seven threats, five incursions and looting of journalist lodgings, 12 violations against media institutions, and 13 other violations, it added.
Increasing media freedoms violations have made it dangerous for journalists to work in Yemen, the report said, hindering them from reporting events freely.
According to the report, 18 journalists were still being detained by the Houthis at the time of publication, and one by the Yemeni government.
Journalist Mohammad Mokri was detained by al-Qaeda in Hadramaut in 2015, and his fate is still unknown, the report said.
"Journalism is still a very dangerous profession in Yemen," SEMC chairman Mustafa Nasr told Al-Mashareq.
"It does not appear that the dangers facing journalists will soon abate, as the number of journalists being killed is increasing, with more than 10 journalists killed annually in Yemen," he said.
"The silencing [of journalists] in Yemen, especially in the areas controlled by the Houthis, is terrifying, as some are arrested for a mere [social media] post," he said.
"We hope the free world will pay attention to this tragedy that Yemeni journalists are enduring on their own," Nasr said.
'Deliberate abuse' of journalists
"Despite having shut down most newspapers and media outlets, the Houthi militias still have an appetite to commit more violations," said Nabeel al-Osaidy, a member of the Journalist's Syndicate in Yemen.
"The Houthis are deliberately abusing journalists, because they view them as being more dangerous than fighters, as stated by their leader on more than one occasion," he told Al-Mashareq.
"For the third year in a row, the Houthi militias still head the list of media freedoms violators in Yemen," he said.
The perpetrators "will be put on trial someday", he added, noting that the stigma of their violations of media freedoms also will remain with them.
Journalists are "the leading victims of military conflicts", said political analyst Waddah al-Jalil, and "are targeted by all sides because they consider them more dangerous than the military throngs they face".
"None of the parties to the conflict are paying particular attention to the protection of journalists," he told Al-Mashareq.
"The Houthis view journalists as legitimate targets and commit various violations against them, including murder," he said.
"The other parties are committing fewer violations against journalists...but this is not enough," he added, stressing the need for greater efforts to protect journalists and ensure their safety in conflict zones.