Yemen security officials illegally detaining hundreds: HRW

Yemen security officials illegally detaining hundreds: HRW

[JURIST] Yemeni security officials have unlawfully and arbitrarily detained hundreds of individuals [press release] as part of its campaign against northern Yemeni rebels since 2004, according to a report [PDF text] released Friday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. The report found that government security forces sometimes unlawfully arrested individuals who have committed no crime to pressure a wanted family member to surrender, silence journalists, or to put pressure on human rights activists. According to the report:

Human Rights Watch investigated 62 cases of disappearance and arbitrary arrest linked to the Huthi rebellion…. In nearly all of the cases, arresting officials did not identify themselves or inform the detainee or his family why he was being arrested and where he was being taken. The families of persons forcibly disappeared did not know for weeks or months after their arrest whether their loved ones were alive or not, who their captors were, or where they were being held. Some still do not know.

Most detainees, when they reappeared, did so at the Political Security Organization, the security and intelligence agency directly linked to the office of President Saleh, after having been effectively “disappeared” for weeks or months without
acknowledgement of their location. Some remain missing—the earliest unresolved enforced disappearance investigated by Human Rights Watch dates back to June 2007.

Human Rights Watch urged the Yemeni government to establish an independent commission with full authority to investigate the alleged disappearances and unlawful arrests, and prosecute officials and members of security forces involved in the illegal acts. AP has more.

Since 2004, the Yemeni government has been fighting a civil war against Huthi rebels from the Believing Youth Movement [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. The movement seeks to revive the influence of Zaidi Hashemites imams, which had been previously heavily involved in government in northern Yemen until 1962.