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Yemen: Al-Houthi Group Must Reveal The Fate Of Woman Kidnapped Two Years Ago

The Genève-based Euro-Med Monitor has called on Al-Houthi group to reveal the fate of a Yemeni woman who has been kidnapped for more than two years, which constitutes a gross violation of the international humanitarian law.

In a press release, the Euro-Med Monitor said Ms. Khaleda Mohammad Al-Asbahi, 57 years old, was kidnapped in 11th May, 2018 in one of Sana'a streets in an area controlled by Al-Houthi on her way back home from the hospital alongside her grandson.

The woman, who has a special health condition, suffers from health negligence and harsh and undermining living conditions. In addition, she is, along with the other kidnapped women, being tortured, beaten, and exposed to verbal violence.

In his statement to the Euro-Med Monitor, Majed, the son of Al-Asbahi said that hours after his mother was kidnapped, he received a phone call from Al-Houthi group, informing him of their intention to handover the little boy. However, they refused to talk about the fate of his mother, whom is still in limbo.

Six months after the kidnapping of the woman, in November 2018, Al-Houthi group called her son Majed, who resides in Saudi Arabia. During the very short call, his mother talked to the family, informing them that she is still alive, asking her son to send a sum of money and food to one of the group members, who happned to live near the family’s house. Three months later, the same thing happened, with no piece of information given about the woman.

After she was kidnapped, the armed group forced their way into the woman’s house, searched it, and kidnapping her other son Maher. They subjected him to an unlawful and tough investigation, according to his witness to the Euro-Med Monitor.

15 days later, the armed group forced their way into Maher’s house again, kidnapping his wife and son. The family was detained for several days before being released. 
In its statement to the Euro-Med Monitor, the family said its members have been threatened of arrest and killing if they don’t stop searching for their mother.

According to the witness of the family to Euro-Med Monitor, some of the charges Al-Houthi directed against their mother include ‘communication with foreign agents and ‘prostitution’. This pushed her sons to flee from Yemen to Saudi Arabia, putting their lives and families at risk.

Majed, her son, confirmed that his mother suffers from several illnesses in the thyroid, resulting in sight complications. In addition, she suffer from slipped vertebrae in L3 and L4 spinal segments, and Rapidly Progressive Hip Disease (RPHD). Majed added that she urgently needs a joint transplantation surgery.

In light of the enforced disappearances the country is witnessing from different conflicting parties, the Euro-Med Monitor emphasized that the Yemeni government has to urgently ratify The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

The Euro-Med highlighted that parties to the ongoing-conflict in Yemen since 2015, such as Al-Houthi along with the groups affiliated with the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the Yemeni government forces, have forcibly detained, agonized, and hidden hundreds of people whose whereabouts are still unkown. International bodies have done very little to help them out.

The Euro-Med Monitor mentioned that the rise of enforced disappearances, is due to the emergence of many armed parties in Yemen. Consequently, these parties have established their own unlawful prisons, ruled by unlawful procedures. They provide no information about their victims nor do they reveal their invitgiation procedures with them.

In Yemen, local human rights institutions have documented about 770 cases who were forcibly disappeared by Al-Houthi, UEA armed forces, and other armed groups. Until today, the fate of those enforcely disappeared remain unknown.

The Euro-Med Monitor confirmed that torturing and inhumane treatment is prohibited according to international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Article three in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 stipulates that “detained people shall in all circumstances be treated humanely without any adverse distinction…in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture and taking hostages, and unjust judgment.” Additionally, enforced appearance, torture, and inhumane treatment are all considered war crimes and crimes against humanity, and, therefore, the perpetrators of such crimes should be held accountable before the criminal court.

The Euro-Med Monitor emphasized that it is extremely important for the Yemeni government to ratify The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to cooperate with international and local human bodies, aiming to learn about the fate of enforcily disappeared persons. Therefore, they could offer them the legal and humantarian assistance. The Yemeni govermnent should devise practical plans to have the perpetrators of such crimes held accountable, stressing that enforced disappearance constitutes a violation of human rights which means a denial of people’s right to exist. 

Background:
In its Resolution 47/133 in 18 December 1992, the United Nations General Assembly issued the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
In 20 December 2006, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 177/61 of The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and presented it for signature, ratification, and adherence. Although such a convention is extremely important to Yemen, in which it will have the issue of the enforced disappearances resolved, Yemen had not ratified the convention.
In accordance with the international human rights law, enforced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge his/her fate and whereabouts, with the intent of placing the victim outside the protection of the law, especially when the victim is detained in unofficial detentions centers.

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