Geneva – 36 Yemeni civilians captured by Houthi groups and forced into disappearance for two years have since been treated with cruelty and now with injustice at illegal courts, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and Sam for Rights and Liberties have documented in a recent investigation.
"Signs of physical torture were seen on the bodies of these Yemenis during their first trial session in court," says Inas Zayed, a Euro-Med Monitor legal researcher. "Some of them reported that the alleged confessions were forced under torture, violating the basic codes of the United Nations Convention against Torture". Between courtly sessions, the detainees were denied their right to counsel and any access to the outer world. The Houthi group kidnapping them only announced their place of detention on the first day of their trail, April 8th, which amounts to a crime of enforced disappearance.
"The Houthi group has the real power on the ground, and they control the court in which the trial of these Yemeni civilians is taking place," says Tawfiq Alhmidi from Sam orgranization. "Following detention, these civilians were accused of collaborating with the Arab coalition against the Houthis, of perpetrating assassinations and of providing assistance to violent resistance."
Not only were these accusations untrue, but they were given by a court continues to operate illegally. Abdul Aziz Al-Baghdadi, the prosecutor appointed by Houthis, was denied his position by the Administrative Court in Sanaa; thus, all rulings by him are repealed. Even more illegally, the trial is taking place in the National Security Court, whose judicial body is of military judges, but the detainees are civilians, who cannot be tried in military courts – in addition to its operation in a way counter to constitutional rules as well as to codes of fair trials included in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights.
During the courtly session, other violations were committed. First, judges approved requests by the prosecutor and negligected the role of the defense lawyer, which is a violation of the sacredness both rights to counsel and to a fair trial. Also, the defense lawyer was not given sufficient time to prepare his litigation, and detainees were not allowed to repeal the collective charges against them.
"Court staff were seen and heard pronounce inappropriate words against defendants and their lawyers, describing them as "collaborators, villains and mercenaries" before the court body which did nothing to stop this verbal assault.
"The extensive media vilification of these 36 Yemenis signals critical messages about the presumably pre-prepared rulings on them," warns the Euro-Med Monitor and Sam. "Such lashing in the media must be monitored and stopped as it is an offense on the defendants' presumption of innocence. It is especially concerning since the court has a recent history of executing detainees after 'procedural prosecution' as in the case of journalist Yahya Abdulraqib in April."
Both of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and Sam for Rights and Liberties condemn in the strongest possible terms all of these violations of the rights of these 36 Yemenis. The two organizations also call on the Houthi group to respect human rights conventions as it is the de facto authority on the ground and on the international community to take action to prevent any further violations, especially if of expectedly irreversible harm, from perpetration.