The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS), in condemning the move and has written to United Nations General Secretary, António Guterres, and the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, urging them to strongly reject the use of journalists in Yemen as hostages and bargaining chips.
The journalists being referred to the court are Abdulkhaleq Ahmad Omran, Akram Saleh Al-Walidi, Al-Hareth Saleh Hameed, Tawfeeq Mohammed Al-Mansouri, Hisham Ahmad Tartoum, Hisham Abdulamalek Al-Yousefi, Haitham Abdulrahman Raweh, Issam Ameen Balgheith, Hassam Abdullah Anab and Salah Mohammed Al-Qaidi.
In its letter, the IFJ urges the UN special envoy to Yemen to “bring their full authority and the powerful array of legal tools at their disposal to demand the immediate and non-negotiable release of them”.
During the last four years of their illegal detention, those who hold them have broken all international conventions and norms on the treatment of prisoners. They were subjected to physical and psychological torture, denied health care, family visits and other basic needs. A few days ago, we were hopeful that their ordeal was coming to an end and that they would be reunited with their families and colleagues. Instead they are now facing an unjust and bogus court.
In October 2018 the IFJ launched a specific campaign on Yemen following our grave concerns about impunity of crimes against journalists. So far, 36 reporters have died in the country since 2011. The last one was Ziad al-Sharaabi, a cameraman killed in a bomb attack on January 28. In addition, 53 media workers have been kidnapped or arrested since the conflict began. Most of these crimes were perpetrated by the Ansar Allah and the government. Furthermore, according to IFJ and the YJS, 135 cases of press freedom violations were registered since January 2018 until the end of September of the same year.
In this context, the IFJ also requested the UN to “pursue any investigation following the violations committed against the journalism community and press freedom in Yemen so that those responsible will face justice if necessary and the victims of these attacks would be secure full restitution”.
The Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate made a statement yesterday condemning “ The continuous repression of journalists, refusal to release them, fabricating false charges against them as well as the refusal of the Political Security Agency to allow union leaders and their defence team to visit them contradicting the orders of the chief judge of the criminal court to all the visit.”
Safety is the major issue that journalists and media workers face when reporting in Yemen. For this reason, the IFJ and YJS have been working closely for years to improved safety and promote a culture of safety among journalists and the media in Yemen. The programme includes providing safety trainings for journalists. Over thirty journalists had the chance to participate in safety trainings in Taiz and Aden during the last two weeks, another workshop will take place in the south east of Yemen in the coming days.