Crime & Justice

Sanaa judges strike over Houthi transgressions

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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In this file photo from January 13th, 2015, security forces stand guard outside a court in Sanaa. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

Judges in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen have been on strike since Saturday (October 17th), when the Judges Club in Sanaa announced a strike at all courts and prosecution departments across the country.

The strikes come in protest against attacks the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) have carried out against the judiciary, with judges demanding the arrest of the perpetrators of those attacks and those who assisted them.

"The assault on the chief of Sanaa northern court, and prior assaults on the chief and judges of Sanaa's south-eastern court, confirm a systemic approach and persistent attempts [at targeting justices]," the Yemen Judges Club said.

In light of these crimes, "the Yemen Judges Club decided to go on a full strike at all prosecution departments and courts in all provinces until the judges' demands have been met", it said.

The club demanded that the perpetrators of attacks on members of the judiciary and those who have attempted to derail justice by interfering with the work of law enforcement be arrested and brought to justice.

It also demanded that adequate security protection be provided to the members and headquarters of the judiciary authority, and that this institution be protected by a clear policy, including a media and awareness campaign.

The club also demanded that the Houthis bear their responsibility and fully meet the judges' demands.

Impact on population

"There is a general state of resentment on the streets because of the stoppage of courts, which suspended the examination of all cases and grievances at courts and prosecution departments," lawyer Sadeq Abdou told Al-Mashareq.

"The judges also are angry and resentful because their demands have not been met, and this affects society as a whole," he said.

Yemen's courts serve as a shelter and haven for the oppressed, lawyer and rights activist Abdul Rahman Barman told Al-Mashareq.

Under normal circumstances, he said, "the judges [would] have no right to go on a strike" in order to demand salary raises or promotions.

But this time, he said, the strike "is about something that is actually threatening their lives and undermining the administration of justice".

He accused the Houthis of interfering in the work of the judiciary and judges.

Meddling in the court system and attacks on the judiciary have undermined the prestige of this institution, he said, with judges effectively "employees working for the Houthi-appointed supervisor who actually controls everything".

Faced with this situation, it is contingent on judges "to defy all of these violations and try to stop them", he said.

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