Yemen: Houthis ban Mwatana for Human Rights Staff from Travel

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

Five staff members of a prominent Yemeni organization, Mwatana for Human Rights including its president, Radhya Al-Mutawakel, Mwatana’s Chairperson and Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Board Member, were arbitrarily banned from travel today, 30 September, at Sana’a international airport. The Ansar Allah (Houthi) group, who de facto control the area, should immediately lift the travel ban and allow them to travel freely, said the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) today.

“After subjecting them to all sorts of restrictions and harassment, the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group, are trying to punish high-profile human rights defenders with travel bans,” said Ziad Abdel Tawab, CIHRS deputy director.

The five staff members were traveling to Amman earlier today for work purposes through Sana’a international airport. They were taken one by one for interrogations by an officer at the airport. The officer didn’t identify himself and his name remains unknown. They were asked about the reasons for their travel and if they have other trips planned after Amman.

After the interrogations that lasted almost ten minutes with each staff member alone, they were told they are banned from traveling without further information.

Mwatana for Human Rights has been working on documenting violations of human rights committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen. They have provided the world invaluable independent reporting of airstrikes, ground attacks, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, violations against minorities including women and religious groups and many other human rights issues in Yemen.

Mwatana for Human Rights has been targeted by all parties to the conflict in Yemen for the work it produces. In June 2018, the Saudi-led coalition arrested Al-Mutawakel and Mwatana’s Vice Chairperson Abdul Rashid Al-Faqih while they were on their way to Sey’oun airport in the southern Yemeni city of Mukalla. They were released later on the same day.

The international community must make use of each and every diplomatic opportunity including the current United Nations Human Rights Council session to put pressure on all parties involved in Yemen to stop this vindictive practice and to respect the rights to association and to freedom of movement of human rights defenders.

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