Empty promises: Government commitments and the state of human rights in Yemen

YEMEN - Empty promises: Government commitments and the state of human rights in Yemen


Nearly three years ago, in 1996, an Amnesty International delegation visited Yemen and held a series of talks with the Yemeni government. During these talks the government made a number of commitments to Amnesty International in order to protect and promote human rights in Yemen. In particular, the government promised to take steps to end arbitrary arrest and detention, to bring to an end the practice of torture, to investigate the practice of detaining women prisoners beyond the end of their sentence and to investigate cases of disappearance Since those talks Amnesty International has sought clarification from the government on the steps it has taken to fulfill its commitments. The organization has also continued to monitor human rights in Yemen. To its bitter disappointment Amnesty International has been forced to conclude that the pattern of human rights violations that it identified three years ago continues to the present day. Arbitrary detention, in particular of journalists and opposition politicians, continues with alarming frequency. Many are arrested without a warrant, often at night. Most of those detained are prisoners of conscience. They are usually released without charge after a short period of detention. Amnesty International has urged the government to take steps to ensure that its own laws, which forbid arrest except with a warrant or in cases of flagrante delicto, are adhered to by all arresting authorities. In particular the organization has urged the government to takes steps to ensure that the Political Security, one of the forces most frequently reported to carry out arbitrary arrest, abides by existing law. Torture, including cases of deaths in circumstances which suggest that torture was a contributory factor, continues to be reported. In many cases torture remains uninvestigated. Amnesty International has repeatedly urged the government of Yemen to put in place mechanisms, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to investigate all allegations of torture, to bring to justice anyone found guilty of carrying out torture, and to provide redress for the victims. Amnesty International believes that such measures are essential if the government is to put an end to the practice of torture. In 1996 the government of Yemen also undertook to investigate cases of 'disappearances Yet, as this report shows, the government has failed to produce any evidence that investigations were carried out. The practice of detaining women beyond the end of their sentence continues despite the government's promise to end . Amnesty International remains concerned that the government of Yemen continues to apply the death penalty, often after trials which fall short of international standards for fair trial. In some cases defendants were executed only days after the crime of which they were accused had taken place. Amnesty International does not consider that a fair trial, including the internationally recognised right to a defence, to an appeal and to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence can take place in such a short period of time. This report also details cases of possible extrajudicial executions or use of excessive lethal force. It urges the government to carry out thorough and independent investigations into such cases. Amnesty International has been able to identify a consistent pattern of human rights violations in Yemen. Although the organization was encouraged by its talks with the government in 1996, this pattern of violations continues. This report urges the government, once and for all, to take the appropriate steps to address human rights violations in Yemen.

This 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.