END IMPUNITY CAMPAIGN 2018: Yemen country report

As a consequence of the fighting between the Houthis, the Yemeni government forces supported by the Saudi led-coalition and al-Qaida, 35 journalists have died in Yemen since 2011, 8 of whom have been killed in 2018. In addition, since 53 kidnapping or arresting of journalists are recorded since 2011, mostly perpetrated by the Houthis and government. In 2018, 14 journalists were kidnapped or were still detained, most of them since 2015. According to IFJ and the report of its affiliate, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS), 135 cases of press freedom violations were registered since January 2018 until end of September.

The ongoing conflict in Yemen, which started in 2015, is often called a "forgotten” war. International media coverage is lacking due to the enormous efforts undertaken by parties involved in the conflict to silence the voices of media workers. While many journalists fled the country, some continue to risk their lives in an attempt to remind the world of the conflict. Sometimes, the price for informing us about the current situation and the suffering of the people is their freedom and lives.

The assassination of the Yemeni journalist Zaki al-Saqaldi, newspaper reporter for AlMasdar press and publishing house, by gunmen on Friday 8 October 2018 in front of his house in Dhale city is a serious escalations in the attacks against journalists in the country.  

The IFJ has recorded the killing of height journalists and media workers  in Yemen in 2017, assassinated or were killed in cross fire, by Houthi snipers or aerial bombings by the Saudi led coalition. The number of journalists killed in Yemen slowly decreased last year comparing to 2016 (3 in 2017, 7 in 2016). However, in 2018 8 journalists have been killed and the trend has been sadly inverted.  The overall situation and working conditions for journalists never have been worst during this two years. Many reporters continue to suffer injuries and threats on a daily basis. They often face media restrictions or closured  and censorship and out of fear impose self-censorship. They are regularly prevented from covering news and face the suspension of their salaries. Yemeni media has polarized along political and sectarian lines and been viewed by the warring factions as the enemy.  

Imprisoned journalists face very poor conditions in detention and are tortured. This year, Yemeni journalist Anwar Al-Rakan died on 8 June just two days after his release from a Houthi prison, amid claims he had been tortured.

The Yemeni Journalist Syndicat (YJS) recorded 135 attacks against journalists and media from  January to end of September, in which 100 were perpetrated in the period January to June. It including killing, imprisonment, attacks on media houses, closing down media and confiscating of newspapers by security forces but also death threats. Targeted harassment as well as assaults and murders is rarely investigated and thus the safety of the media workers is not guaranteed nor secured.

The Houthis and government bodies are responsible for most of the case the YJS recorded.  The Houthis are responsible for almost 41% of these attacks, and the Yemeni government of more than a third this year. Different militias and the Saudi led coalition are responsible for most of the other attacks.

On top of the 53 kidnappings and arrests recorded in 2018, 15 journalists journalists remain abducted since 2015 according to YJS reports – 14 by the Houthis.

The most vulnerable group are local journalists. Many foreign reporters cannot enter the country and have no opportunity to get close to the war. Therefore the burden lies on the shoulders of Yemeni correspondents who are more likely to face the violations and dangers of reporting the war.

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

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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