Yemen: IFJ calls on UN to exert pressure for release of 10 journalists on hunger strike in Houthi jails

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest organisation of journalists, today called on the United Nations envoy in Yemen to act to help secure the immediate release of 10 jailed journalists amid growing concerns about their health and allegations of torture.

In a letter to UN envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the IFJ backed the concerns expressed by its affiliate, the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate (YJS) and the journalists’ families, about the inhuman conditions the jailed journalists face.

The 10 journalists have been on hunger strike for almost a month and the YJS has documented numerous cases of torture and maltreatment. The YJS claims that the journalists have been denied family visits, healthy nutrition and access to medicines. Some of them have become ill.

Taoufik el Mansoury, Hasan Anab, Akaram am waledy, Essam belghayth, Hareth Hamid, haytham Shehab, Hesham Al youssify, Hesham tarmoum, Salah al Qaady and Abdelkhalek Omran have been detained by the Houthis in al Habra prison in Yemen’s capital Sana'a for over a year. Their families informed the YJS that the reporters began a hunger strike on 9 May to protest against the inhuman conditions in jail.

The families of the reporters renewed their call in a letter to human rights and humanitarian organizations, led by the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations in Sana'a, to visit al Habra prison and to take humanitarian action to help the jailed journalists.

The IFJ letter comes after the declarations of Mr. Cheikh, who reported this Wednesday that Yemen’s warring parties were closer to agreement at peace talks.

“We welcome the progress of peace talks in Yemen but we urge international institutions such as the UN not to forget the situation of our colleagues in prison and the inhuman conditions they are suffering solely as a result of reporting on the war,” said IFJ President, Jim Boumelha. “We join our Yemeni affiliate and we express our sincere solidarity with their devastated families in demanding justice for them. The international community needs to know what is going on in Yemen and this is an outrageous attempt to silence the truth.”

Abdel Malek Abdel Jalil Al Moukhalifi, minister of Foreign Affairs in Yemen, also sent a letter to the UN envoy this month asking for the release of the journalists as a humanitarian case related to the right to live and the right to a free life.

According to the IFJ’s latest figures, 15 journalists have been killed, 14 remain captive by Houthis - and 1 by Al Qaida - and 9 have been tortured in Yemen since 2015. The YJS also reported 200 cases of violations against press freedom.

Visit the IFJ ongoing campaign on Yemen launched mid-2014 to monitor the media crackdown in the country.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Follow the IFJ on Twitter and Facebook

Subscribe to IFJ News