Journalists in Yemen attacked ‘from all quarters,’ UN rights chief says

Since the beginning of April, the United Nations has documented an abduction, a killing and a number of physical attacks and threats against journalists operating in war-torn Yemen.

al-monitor A mourner stands with an old identification document issued by the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) while holding with others posters showing the face of slain Yemeni journalist and AFP contributor Nabil Hasan al-Quaety, with text in Arabic reading (R to L) "You lived strong and died a martyr" and "You have defeated them with your smile, Martyr Nabil al-Quaety," during his funeral in the southern city of Aden on June 4, 2020. The Yemeni journalist was gunned down June 2 in Aden.  Photo by AFP via Getty Images.

Aug 6, 2020

The United Nations human rights chief called on all parties in Yemen to release their detained journalists, warning today that attacks against the men and women documenting the conflict may amount to war crimes 

"Journalists are under attack from all quarters,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. “They are jailed and sentenced to death for merely trying to shine a light on the brutality of this crisis."

Since the start of April, the UN Human Rights Office has documented “one assassination, one abduction, three cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, the sentencing of four journalists to death in violation of international human rights law and jailing of six others, three physical assaults and threats of physical violence.”

Yemen has been embroiled in civil war since 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi movement seized the capital, Sanaa, and captured large swaths of the country. The next year, Saudi Arabia led a military coalition that intervened on the government’s behalf. 

Journalists have come under attack by all parties to the conflict, including foreign governments and terrorist groups, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. The constant intimidation and detention of journalists contributes to Yemen's ranking — 167th out of 180 countries — in Reporters Without Borders' press freedom index. 

Since the start of the conflict, the United Nations has documented 357 human rights violations and abuses against journalists in Yemen, including 28 killings. Most recently, unidentified gunmen killed prominent photojournalist Nabil al-Quaety outside his house in the southern city of Aden in June. 

In Houthi-held Sanaa, a court in April sentenced four journalists to death on spying charges that Amnesty International described as “trumped up.” The journalists' lawyer says they were subjected to brutal torture while in detention. 

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