Policy

Report revealed the several forms of torture practiced in Houthi prisons in Yemen


A report of 40-page revealed the different illegal forms of abduction and pain adopted by Houthis and showed the secret location of certain Houthi-run prisons in many Yemeni governorates to torture civilians. Indeed, the report entitled I had a death wish, is based on 13 testimonies Euro-Med Monitor research group assembled from freed prisoners.

It should note that all of them are civilians and have been liberated in the UN-sponsored prisoner-swap agreement between the warring sides in August 2020. The liberated prisoners indicated the most important violations that they were subjected and the worst conditions that they suffered during their arrest in Houthi prisons.

Moreover, Houthis manage unofficial centers for arrest, like residential buildings, schools, and universities, which do not have the minimum international and local standards for arrest about hygiene, ventilation, and the provision of proper health care, water, electricity, and essential needs.

The same report showed that the COVID-19 had circulated extensively in the three main arrest centers in Sana’a: the Political Prison, the Habra Prison, and the Central Prison. Besides, these three prisons are not appropriate to be used as arrest centers in the first place because of the loss of the minimum legal standards for arrest.

It also should indicate that Houthis use many sorts of torture, varying between physical and mental suffering. Sever beating with heavy tools such as rifle butts were the Houthis’ most important torture method. Houthis practiced other forms of torture like hanging from hands for long periods, whipping detainees while naked, and using explosive chemical materials. These types of torture caused continual disabilities to some detainees. In contrast, others died during torture, particularly those who were hit on the head with batons or those who were sprayed with acid.

Otherwise, Houthi used other forms of mental suffering that involved threatening and pressuring detainees to admit to accusations that they did not do. Houthis also kept them in solitary confinement, seizing their clothes and medicines, and insulted and threatened to hurt their families. They also extorted their families to release them and threatened to transfer detainees to places under continuous bombing from the Arab Coalition warplanes. Most of those liberated suffer from psychological problems that need long-term rehabilitation

In the same context, a former prisoner in Houthi prisons, Ibrahim Ghandari, stated in his testimony to Euro-Med Monitor: I was imprisoned for about five years. I was not presented to the court, nor was I allowed to appoint a lawyer. My charge was being a political activist. I was beaten with cables. They used to tie my hands to my feet from behind using chains, deprived me of medicines and painkillers. I spent about five years in an overcrowded and completely closed room with no light, ventilation or sunlight. They only allowed us to use the bathroom for a short period of time not exceeding two minutes three times a day. They did not allow me to communicate with my family except eight months after my detention.

Furthermore, Tariq Al-Liwa, who is the legal advisor at the Euro-Med Monitor, related that Yemeni laws and international agreements and conventions regarding the status of prisoners prohibit all practices committed by Houthis against prisoners, including arbitrary arrest, detaining them in illegal places and not enabling them to exercise their right to legal defense, and violations and practices committed against them, including physical and psychological torture.

He also said: the atrocities committed inside Houthi prisons make it imperative for all concerned parties, with their different specializations, to assume their responsibilities towards monitoring detention facilities and conditions, and to pressure Houthis to end their policy of kidnapping, enforced disappearance and systematic torture of prisoners, and to hold accountable those involved in these brutal practices.

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