(Geneva – 25 May 2010) The UN Committee against Torture (CAT), which reviewed the situation of torture in Yemen on 6 May, expressed deep concern about allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Yemeni prisons. The Committee expressed particular concern about the attacks against human rights defenders that participated in the review of Yemen in its absence in November 2009. Specifically, the experts expressed “concern at information of threats against, and intimidation and harassment of, members of the non-governmental organization, Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights.”
In an effort to silence human rights defenders and prevent them from publicizing human rights violations internationally, the Yemeni authorities began subjecting SAF and the organization’s chairperson, Mrs. Amal Al-Basha, to various attacks. Their offices were raided and damaged, Ms. Basha’s car brakes sabotaged, she received numerous intimidating phone calls, and was attacked with a liquid sprayed on her face. The Committee stated that it “deeply regrets that the State party has not replied to the letter sent by the Committee’s Chairperson on 3 December 2009 that addressed these allegations.”
“We welcome the many strong recommendations regarding the death penalty, sexual violence against women in detention, and the incommunicado detention and arrest of political activists and journalists,” said Mrs. Basha. The practice of floggings, beatings, and cutting of limbs, which is still practiced and prescribed by law, was also addressed by the CAT.
There is fear that there will be a repeat of the retaliatory attacks against the Yemeni NGOs. Therefore, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and the Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights call upon the Yemeni government to end all attacks against human rights defenders that engage with international human rights mechanisms, and to respect their right, granted under international law, to seek the protection and realization of human rights at both the national and international levels.
Jeremie Smith +41 (0) 767 172 477 (CIHRS)
Amal Basha +967 156 17 67 (SAF)
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