IHL & HRL Violations - April 2019


San’a Governorate

A lawyer alleges that 36 defendants charged with espionage have been tortured by the Houthis during their detention. The lawyer also alleges that they have been deprived of food and medicine. Torture and any cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishments are prohibited by IHL rule 90. This is also a violation of rule 118, which requires that persons deprived of their liberty are provided with basic necessities, such as food, water, and medicine.  

Since April 2, Professor Youssef al-Bawab has been held without any contact with the outside world in San’a’s Political Security Office, according to Amnesty International. He has been detained since October 2016 and has been subject to torture, forced disappearance, delayed proceedings, and an unfair trial. He has also lacked access to adequate medical care and legal counsel. Torture is a violation of rule 90 while rule 118 requires adequate access to medical care for detained persons. Enforced disappearance is a violation of rule 98 and rule 100 requires that detainees be guaranteed a fair trial.

The Houthis have abducted civilian journalists, academics, and students, holding them in a political security prison in San’a, according to the Mothers of Abductees Organization. The organization also accused the Houthis of torture, denying their detainees food and medicine, and not allowing visits for up to two weeks at a time. The arbitrary deprivation of liberty is a violation of rule 99 while torture is a violation of rule 90. Rule 118 requires persons deprived of their liberty are provided with basic necessities, including food and medicine.  

Ta’iz Governorate

The Houthis deliberately concealed fighters and equipment with or close to civilians in al-Mukha to avoid attack, according to a report by the United Nations Security Council. The use of human shields is a violation of rule 97.

The last week of April, Houthi militia fired a rocket at a house and killed 5 civilians--a mother and her four children--in Mashrafa village in the Jabal Habashi District. This is a violation of rules 3 and 6, which forbids targeting civilians.

Al-Baydha Governorate

On April 28, Houthi tanks killed one child and injured three other people when they fired at the al-Habag area of al-Zaher District. Civilians are protected from attack by rules 3 and 6.

Al-Hudaydah Governorate

On April 2, the Houthis denied the workers access to a grain storage site in Hudaydah City, hindering their efforts to deliver wheat to WFP for aid to the Yemeni population. This is a violation of rule 55, which prohibits restricting access to humanitarian relief for civilians in need.

Hajjah Governorate

On April 8, the Houthis kidnapped seventeen civilians from their homes in the town of Bani Sa’id during extensive raids that displaced a number of people from the town. The arbitrary deprivation of liberty is a violation of rule 99.

On April 18, the Houthis detained twenty members of a French NGO in partnership with the World Food Programme, preventing them from leaving the Bani Qais District of Hajjah. Arbitrary deprivation of liberty is prohibited by rule 99 and impeding humanitarian aid is in violation of rule 55.


Landmines planted by the Houthis throughout the western part of the country have killed at least 140 civilians and injured hundreds more, according to Human Rights Watch. The mines have also impeded agricultural activities, the ability for civilians to draw their water, and the work of humanitarian groups trying to provide assistance. This is a violation of rule 81, which requires combatants to have discretion in their placement of landmines, and rule 15, which requires combatants to take precautions not to harm civilians.

New information alleges that the United Nations efforts in May 2017 to administer cholera vaccines to the Yemeni population were thwarted due to Houthi refusal to allow landing clearance for a flight carrying vaccines for half a million people. This is a violation of rule 55, which prohibits inhibiting humanitarian relief for civilians in need.


San’a Governorate

On April 7, at least eleven civilians were killed and over a hundred more injured in an Saudi-led coalition air raid on the capital of Sana’a. This is a violation of rules 3 and 6, which prohibit harming civilians.

Ibb Governorate

On April 27, Saudi-led coalition aircraft bombed a civil vehicle, killing five civilians--including one child--in al-Oud District of Ibb Governorate. Rules 3 and 6 prohibit harming civilians.


The Saudi-led coalition has been recruiting child soldiers from southern Yemen to fight along the Saudi-Yemeni border, according to information and footage obtained by Al Jazeera. The recruitment of child soldiers is a violation of rule 136.


Ta’iz Governorate  

From April 18 through April 22, five civilians were killed and 91 injured in clashes between security forces and the Emirati-backed Abu al-Abbas brigades in Ta’iz City. Civilians are protected from harm by rules 3 and 6, while rule 51 requires combatants to take precautions against harming civilians.