Journalists in Yemen continue to face severe threats in carrying out their work


On 30th December 2020, journalist Adeeb Al-Janani was hit by shrapnel and killed as he covered the arrival of the new Yemeni government at Aden International Airport. Al-Janani died after three mortar shells targeted the terminal minutes after the arrival of the plane carrying members of the new government, injuring ten others, including Yemen Satellite Channel correspondent Sadiq Al-Ratibi. Following his funeral on 2nd January 2021, a number of Al-Janani’s journalist colleagues led a protest condemning the ongoing violations against journalists and the media in Yemen.

Separately, GCHR has received worrying reports that journalist Tawfiq Mohammed Al-Mansouri, who is appealing a death sentence handed down in April 2020, is suffering a serious deterioration of his health in prison in Sana’a. According to reliable sources, the administration of the Security and Intelligence Prison, where he is imprisoned, continues to deny him the necessary medical treatment and appropriate medicines for the various diseases he is suffering from. Human rights lawyer Abdulmajeed Sabra has called on the Public Prosecutor in Sana’a to "assume its legal responsibility," adding, "The authority in place in Sana'a and the Security and Intelligence Service must provide full health care to detainee Tawfiq Al-Mansouri and release him immediately." The withholding of urgent medical treatment from Al-Mansouri by the de facto Houthi authorities was also condemned by Amnesty International as an “act of cruelty that violates the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment.” Human Rights Watch has also reported on the arbitrary detention and sentencing to death of Al-Mansouri and three other Yemeni journalists, Abdul-Khaleq Amran, Akram al-Walidi and Hareth Humaid, commenting that in Yemen, “journalism can be a capital offence.”

As previously reported on the Monitor, the four journalists, who worked for various local media outlets, have been arbitrarily detained since 2015 by the Houthi authorities, apparently for reporting on abuses by the Houthis as the armed group took over the capital, Sana’a, and much of western Yemen in September 2014. In April 2020, all four journalists were sentenced to death by the Houthi-controlled Specialised Criminal Court in Sana’a on politically motivated charges of treason, spreading false news and spying for foreign states. The defence team continues to work on preparing their appeal, which the Public Prosecution is now handling, before submitting it to the Specialised Criminal Court's Appeals Chamber. The four journalists have been subjected to ill-treatment in the Security and Intelligence Prison and denied regular visits or contact with their families.

In other developments, on 19th October 2020, journalist Mohammed Ali Al-Maqri was released from the Political Security prison in Ma’rib. Al-Maqri was kidnapped in March 2019 while he was leaving his home in the Ma’rib governorate where he sought refuge from Houthi persecution. According to GCHR, he was tortured during his imprisonment and was not informed of the death of his wife while he was in prison.