Yemen: Union reports systematic media violations in the first half of 2021

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) has documented systematic violations of media freedom in the country between 1 January and 31 June 2021, including arbitrary detentions, kidnappings and threats. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its Yemeni affiliate in calling for the release and compensation of all media workers who were victims of these violations and urges the warring parties to respect press freedom and the right to information.

Journalists and mourners lift placards and banners during the funeral of TV reporter Adib al-Janani who was killed in an attack on January 2, 2021. Credits: AHMAD AL-BASHA / AFP

The media violations reported by the YJS affect all kinds of media workers, from reporters, photographers, media institutions and journalists’ working material. The YJS's report includes dozens of cases of arbitrary detention, kidnapping, chasing, harassment, threats, incitement, attacks, coverage banning, confiscation of newspapers, prosecution and investigation of journalists.

According to the YJS's bi-annual report, the Houthi group was responsible for twenty of the thirty-six violations while the government was responsible for ten. The remaining six violations were committed by the Southern Transitional Council (STC).

The YJS also recalls that nine journalists are still held by the Houthis: Wahid Al-Sufi, Abdul-Khaleq Amran, Tawfiq Al-Mansoori, Akram Al-Walidy, Harith Hamid, Nabil Al-Sadawi, Muhammad Abdo Al-Salahi, Walid Al-Matari and Muhammad Ali Al-Junaid.

Of these nine journalists detained by the Houthis, four of them have been sentenced to death: Abdul-Khaleq Amran, Tawfiq Al-Mansoori, Akram Al-Walidi, and Harith Hamid.

In addition, journalist Muhammad Qaid al-Muqri has been in Al-Qaeda's custody since 2015.

The Yemeni warring parties continue to target journalists and media outlets daily, whom they consider as opponents involved in the conflict. The YJS notes that, since the beginning of the civil war, there have been more than 1,400 violations of media freedoms, including 38 killings of media professionals.

Yemen is now one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with extremely high levels of impunity. The conflict currently receives very little media coverage due to the exceptionally unsafe conditions for media workers.

In 2020, the YJS reported 112 cases of media freedoms violations.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We join our affiliate the YJS in condemning the ongoing violence against media workers in Yemen. All journalists must be released and the death sentences dropped immediately. We urge the authorities to take steps to guarantee journalists’ safety and eradicate the culture of impunity for crimes against media workers."