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Amnesty International Report 1994 - Yemen

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 1 January 1994
Citation / Document Symbol Amnesty/AR94/YEMEN
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1994 - Yemen, 1 January 1994, Amnesty/AR94/YEMEN, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9f027.html [accessed 23 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
One long-term prisoner of conscience remained held. Over 300 suspected members or supporters of a militant Islamic opposition group were arrested following violent attacks in the south. Some were still held without charge or trial at the end of the year. Scores of people detained in late 1992, among them possible prisoners of conscience, were released. A group of at least 20 government opponents, most of whom had been convicted after unfair trials, remained in prison. Torture and ill-treatment were widespread and the judicial punishment of flogging was frequently carried out in the northern provinces. A Somali refugee was killed in circumstances suggesting that he may have been extrajudicially executed, and at least five political activists were killed or were targeted for assassination in attacks suggesting the involvement or complicity of some officials. No steps were taken to clarify the fate of several hundred people who "disappeared" in previous years. Over 30 people were executed and hundreds of people were under sentence of death.

Parliamentary elections were held in April and a coalition government was formed by the three main parties. The Council of Representatives elected a Presidential Council and General 'Ali 'Abdullah Saleh was reconfirmed as its Chairman.

The Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedures of unified Yemen had not been promulgated by the end of the year and the legal systems of the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) and the former Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) remained separate.

Mansur Rajih, a prisoner of conscience, remained under sentence of death after more than 10 years' imprisonment (see Amnesty International Report 1993). 'Ali 'Abdul-Fattah Hashim, a prisoner of conscience held on charges of apostasy since April 1992, was released in June.

Over 300 suspected members or supporters of Islamic Jihad, a militant Islamic opposition group, were arrested in January, May and August, following bomb attacks, killings and attempted assassinations in the provinces of Aden, Hadhramaut, Lahj and Abyan. In Aden, scores of people were arrested in January following bomb attacks on the city's two main hotels. Most were held only briefly, but 14 were charged with "forming armed gangs". In July, six of the 14 escaped from al-Mansura prison in Aden. A suspected member of Islamic Jihad was subsequently arrested and charged with helping the detainees to escape. The nine remaining prisoners, including Shahab 'Abdo Sa'id Sayf, a public sector employee, were still detained without trial and without access to legal counsel at the end of the year.

In May over 20 people were arrested in al-Qutn Directorate in Hadhramaut province, following the killing of two army officers and a soldier at a check-point. Some were released, but 10 were tried before al-Qutn Court of First Instance on charges of premeditated murder and acts of terrorism. There were procedural irregularities during pre-trial detention, including denial of access to defence counsel until shortly before the trial, and some of the defendants were allegedly tortured during interrogation (see below). Two were sentenced to death, five received prison terms ranging from five to 10 years, and three were acquitted. Appeals were pending against all the sentences. In December, seven other suspected Islamic Jihad detainees were tried in al-Hutta Directorate in Lahj province on charges of planning the assassination of the province's Deputy Governor. Their trial had not been concluded by the end of the year. In Abyan province, scores of people were arrested in August following the attempted assassination of a member of the Political Bureau of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), one of the three main parties in government. Most were released shortly after; it was not known how many remained in detention at the end of the year.

All the detainees who were known to be still held at the beginning of the year in connection with the December 1992 riots were released by February (see Amnesty International Report 1993). Among them were 20 people who were acquitted by the Sana'a Court of First Instance. During their trial, all stated that they had been tortured to extract confessions. They included Muhammad 'Ali Hatem al-Ru'ud, a 15-year-old high school student.

At least 20 government opponents, among them possible prisoners of conscience, remained in prison. They had been arrested at different times during the 1980s and most had been convicted after unfair trials. At least one was held despite having been tried and acquitted. All were suspected members of the former National Democratic Front (NDF), the main opposition group in the former YAR (see previous Amnesty International Reports). Two members of the former NDF were released during the year.

Torture and ill-treatment of detainees remained common and widespread, particularly in police stations and at al-Mabahith al-Jina'iyya (Criminal Investigations) centres. The methods used included beatings all over the body, electric shocks, threats of rape and "Kentucky Farruj" (suspension from a metal bar inserted between the hands and knees which are tied together). 'Ali Yahya Muhammad Qina'i, a farmer from Zabeed, al-Hudaida province, was arrested in September and held in al-Mabahith al-Jina'iyya centre in al-Hudaida city. He was allegedly tortured with "Kentucky Farruj" to force him to give false testimony in a murder case. Two fellow inmates who testified before a representative of the Public Prosecution that 'Ali Yahya Muhammad Qina'i had been tortured were themselves allegedly tortured as punishment. 'Abdullah 'Ali 'Abdullah al-Dhabibi, a member of the Civil Guard who was arrested in October by police from al-Thawra police station in Sana'a, the capital, was allegedly tortured to force him to confess to drug-smuggling. He sustained broken ribs and injuries to his head.

Several suspected members of Islamic Jihad were reportedly tortured. 'Ali Muhammad 'Umar 'Abdullah al-Kurdi was reportedly beaten in front of other detainees in al-Mansura prison in August. Other Islamic Jihad suspects were reportedly ill-treated and threatened with rape, and two of those held in Hadhramaut province were allegedly raped.

Public floggings as a judicial punishment were frequently imposed in the northern provinces. Between January and October in Sana'a alone, at least 865 people were flogged in al-Sab'in Public Garden. In al-Hudaida city, 44 people were flogged in October.

A Somali refugee, 'Abdul-Rahman Du'ala 'Abdul-Rahman, was the victim of a possible extrajudicial execution in September in al-Kud refugee camp in Abyan province. He was killed when members of al-Amn al-Siyassi, Political Security, fired indiscriminately into a group of refugees who were trying to prevent two women from being removed from the camp at night. No judicial investigation was known to have been carried out into the incident.

There were several political killings and attempted assassinations in circumstances suggesting the involvement or complicity of the authorities. The victims were mostly members of the YSP. Some of the perpetrators were reportedly known to the authorities, but no attempts were made to apprehend them. Among the victims was Kamil Muhammad al-Hamid, a nephew of 'Ali Salem al-Bidh, Secretary General of the YSP. He was shot dead in October in Aden while in the company of two of 'Ali Salem al-Bidh's sons who were said to have been the intended targets.

A parliamentary inquiry into the killing of demonstrators in December 1992 (see Amnesty International Report 1993) was concluded in January. It found that the military and security forces were not responsible for the killings, although it urged the authorities to compensate the victims' families.

The fate of hundreds of detainees who "disappeared" in previous years in the former pdry and YAR remained unknown (see previous Amnesty International Reports).

Over 30 people were executed after being convicted of premeditated murder and highway robbery. The executions were carried out in public in Sana'a, and other cities. Among the victims was Nasser Munir Nasser al-Kirbi, who was only 13 years old. He was executed with three others in Sana'a in July following their conviction for murder and highway robbery. Hundreds of people remained under sentence of death.

Amnesty International urged the government to release prisoner of conscience Mansur Rajih immediately and unconditionally. It called for a judicial review of the cases of political prisoners sentenced after unfair trials, details of which were published in August in an Amnesty International report, Yemen: Unlawful detention and unfair trials of members of the former National Democratic Front. In August the authorities again denied that any political prisoners were being held in Yemen.

In response to an invitation from the government, Amnesty International in July submitted its initial comments on unified Yemen's draft Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedures and other legal reforms. It urged that all such legislation conform to international human rights standards.

In October Amnesty International urged the fair trial or release of suspected members or supporters of Islamic Jihad. It also urged the government to establish an inquiry into new allegations of torture. Amnesty International continued to urge the government to clarify the fate of hundreds of detainees who had "disappeared" in previous years.

In December Amnesty International called on the government to set up an inquiry into the death of a Somali refugee and all politically motivated killings. It also appealed to the Presidential Council not to ratify death sentences.

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