UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Thursday that there have been a high number of human rights violations against journalists covering the ongoing civil war in Yemen.
The conflict began in March 2015. Since that time, the UN Human Rights Office has documented 357 human rights violations and abuses against journalists, including killings, disappearances, death sentences, and arbitrary arrests and detentions.
Since the beginning of April, the UN Human Rights Office has documented an assassination, an abduction, arbitrary arrests and detentions, death sentences in violation of international human rights law and jailing, physical assaults, and physical violence threats, all done by participants in the armed conflict.
Bachelet said that these violations may amount to war crimes, because journalists are protected as civilians under international humanitarian law. She noted:
The safety of journalists is essential to the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of us all, and in the context of armed conflict they play a vital role in uncovering the truth and holding the parties to the conflict to account publicly.
Because journalists should not be penalized for carrying out their “legitimate activities,” she urged that de facto authorities set aside death sentences currently imposed on four journalists. She called for the release of detained journalists and the investigation and punishment for those responsible for the violence and threats of violence against journalists.