Yemen: Ongoing conflict and lack of international oversight have contributed to worsening conditions for journalists
Stockholm - Skyline International for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the increasing attacks on journalists and media workers by the various parties to the conflict in Yemen. It stresses that these practices have contributed to a serious deterioration of conditions for journalists and have led dozens of them to abandon their profession for fear of persecution and attacks.
In a statement released today (Wednesday), Skyline calls on the international community and relevant international organizations to urgently put pressure on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to end the ongoing attacks on journalists.
In its statement, "Skyline" points to the alarming numbers of assaults journalists have faced - and continue to face. From 2014 to the third quarter of 2022, 45 cases of liquidation and killing of journalists have been documented in Yemen. The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate stated that the Houthi group killed 17 of these journalists, while 14 journalists were killed in airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. In addition, unknown journalists were killed in 12 cases, while terrorist groups killed two journalists.
During the same period, there were more than 1,465 cases of the targeted persecution of journalists, their forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and torture. In addition, nearly 150 foreign media outlets and media offices were closed, most of them in areas controlled by the Houthi group, as journalistic and media work, was concentrated there before the group took control.
According to several local and international human rights reports, the Houthi group still holds ten journalists, four of whom face the death penalty. Internal and international efforts have failed to release the detained journalists or to grant them their civil rights, i.e., to allow their families to contact them or provide them with medical care.
As for newspapers, figures obtained by Skyline show that the number of such newspapers has declined in areas controlled by the Houthi group. Thus, the number of official, private, partisan, and privately-owned newspapers amounted to about 295 editions in 2013. These publications vary between daily, weekly, and monthly editions. In 2022, there are only six newspapers left in Sana'a, all of which belong to and are loyal to the Houthi group.
On the other hand, the media landscape in the legitimate government's areas is acceptable compared to the areas controlled by the Houthi group, especially in the Aden governorate. According to the Yemeni Journalists Association, 35 official and private newspapers and electronic press websites in Aden governorate were established after 2015.
For its part, Skyline affirms that the practices it has observed against Yemeni journalists and media workers clearly indicate that the parties to the conflict are using a policy of threats and aggression to prevent these people from doing their jobs. At the same time, Skyline stresses that these practices constitute a serious violation of the rules of international law, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and other rules that guarantee people the freedom to transmit and publish information and report news.
Skyline International concludes its statement by calling on all parties to the conflict to cease their unwarranted violations and to work to ensure that journalists and media professionals can carry out their work without restriction or persecution. It emphasises the need for the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Yemen to act and exert real pressure on these parties to ensure compliance with the rules of international law.