Human Rights |

Report shows thousands of Houthi violations in Sanaa

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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A Yemeni boy lines up a round of ammunition atop the barrel of a Kalashnikov assault rifle, with a flag sticking from his jacket showing a picture of Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi, during a tribal meeting in Sanaa on September 21st. [Mohamed Huwais/AFP]

The Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) have committed more than 25,000 human rights violations in the Sanaa administrative district (Amanat Sanaa) since 2017, the Sanaa Human Rights Office revealed in a November 9th report.

These violations include killings, torture, detentions, looting of public and private property and the recruitment of children to fight in the ranks of the militia.

Introducing the report, Sanaa Human Rights Office director general Fahmi al-Zubairi pointed out there had been 25,714 cases of human rights violations.

The most serious of these crimes -- 274 cases -- involved killings with direct gunfire or under torture, he said.

Of the 105 cases of injury caused by torture, there are nine cases of total paralysis and five cases of partial paralysis, al-Zubairi said, adding that torture resulted in memory loss in seven cases recorded in the report.

A total of 13,895 violations were committed in 2019, or 54% of the three-year total, the largest percentage of the reporting period, he said.

According to the report, there were 6,496 violations, or 25% of the total number documented, committed in 2018, and 5,350 violations in 2017, or 21% of the total, he added.

The monitoring team recorded 654 cases of torture, including 551 cases involving men, 83 cases involving women and 20 cases involving children.

Cases involving political trials totaled 105, and the team recorded a case in which 31 people were sentenced to death in one trial session, he said.

The most numerous violations committed during the three-year reporting period were related to employment, he said.

This has included abuses that range from pay cuts and non-payment of salaries to dismissal from employment and the appointment of cadres with ties to the Houthis, he said.

Documentation process

"We have monitoring teams working in Sanaa under difficult conditions fraught with fear and caution to look for victims, sit with them and listen to them in total secrecy," al-Zubairi said of the documentation process.

The documentation process "is carried out in accordance with internationally adopted standards, human rights rules and international law", he said.

"Next comes the screening and legal review process," he said, after which the case is referred to the Ministry of Human Rights and any relevant international organisations.

The ministry then refers individual cases to the National Committee to Investigate Human Rights Violations, which collates it into a court case and refers it to the judiciary, al-Zubairi said.

"The militias practiced all kinds of political, social, economic and cultural violations," Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez told Al-Mashareq.

Pursuing justice

"The ministry is monitoring and documenting these crimes, and those who commit them will receive their punishment, because there is no statute of limitations for such crimes," Abdul Hafeez said.

The principles of transitional justice will be a part of any agreement that restores peace to Yemen, he said.

Lawyer and human rights activist Abdul Rahman Berman told Al-Mashareq that violations committed in Sanaa are "the most numerous, because it is the city from which the Houthis project their rule".

The militia has sought to spread "fear and terror", he said, "eliminating their opponents and expanding their influence to the maximum extent".

Berman called on international organisations to "pressure the Houthis to stop these violations".

All segments of Yemeni society have suffered as a result of the Houthis' ideology, which serves their own interests and that of the Iranian regime "without regard to the rights and interests of Yemenis", he said.

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