Houthis responsible for arbitrary arrests, torture, murder

In its press release dated June 24, Mwatana Organization for Human Rights reported on gross violations of human rights committed by the Houthi movement--also known as Ansar Allah--in detention centers under their control. The report investigated approximately 30 cases of torture taking place in private detention centers and interrogation rooms where Houthis have reportedly adopted torture as a tool for interrogating detainees and denied access to medical care.  

The report documented the murder of 26-year-old Walid al-Ibbi in the Houthi-controlled Criminal Investigation Department in San'a. According to the victim’s brother, Walid was arbitrarily detained by the Special Security Forces from his private car and sent to the Criminal Investigation Department in San’a for the purpose of conducting routine interrogation, a Houthi leader told Walid’s brother. The victim was held in a solitary cell and denied visits for several days until his death, as Walid’s brother was allowed to see the victim’s body in Kuwait Public Hospital. A supervisor of Ansar Allah claimed that Walid had some psychological disorders and committed suicide during his detention.

Mwatana’s investigation of Walid’s case confirmed that the forensic pathologist’s report stated Walid’s cause of death was “severe hemorrhage, a laceration, and crushing of the brain substance resulting from a gunshot.” The report concluded that Walid went through “severe abuse and violence” which was evident in bruises and abrasions throughout his body, before getting shot at a distance of one meter.

"This incident of torture and killing, together with similar incidents documented by "Mwatana," provides another example that reveals the black record of human rights violations exercised by Houthis and Saleh authorities in the governorates under their control, and that those involved in these gross violations must not escape punishment", the Chairperson of Mwatana Organization Radhya al-Mutawakil said.

Journalists and media personnel were not spared from Houthis’ abuses and intimidation, as the Houthis fear the exposure of their crimes and abuses in Yemen. Mwatana documented several cases of torture, ill-treatment, and assault against detained journalists in Ansar Allah-controlled prisons, and issued a statement condemning the horrific repression against the press in Yemen.  

Tawfik Al-Mansouri (29 years old) and Abdulkhaliq Imran (30 years old) were interviewed by Mwatana at al-Thawra Remand Prison in San’a along with other 7 detainees. Tawfik and Abdulkhaliq reported that the prison cells are cold and have no sunlight access, and explained the different patterns of torture adopted at the Remand Prison. Detainees are often hung upside-down with their hands tied, Tawfik and Abdulkhaliq told Mwatana.  

Radhya al-Mutawakil stressed the need to establish “an independent international mechanism for enquiry in violations by all the conflict parties in Yemen” and demanded the support of the international community for victims of torture in Yemen.