During a UN Human Rights Council debate on Yemen today in the presence of the Group of Experts on Yemen, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the violations of journalists’ rights by all parties to the war, called for the release of detained journalists and stressed the obligation under international humanitarian law to protect journalists not participating in the hostilities.
The oral intervention by Isabel Amosse, RSF’s head of advocacy, during this inter-active debate is appended below:
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hails the work of the Group of Experts on Yemen, a country that is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index. The situation in Yemen has been very worrying for years and still is.
On the one hand, the armed conflict exposes reporters in the field to the risk of being killed in the course of their work. On the other, the polarization of the media between all the various parties to the conflict fuels mistrust and harassment of independent journalists, who are seen as activists or spies.
The violations are committed by all sides and in all the areas controlled by the various parties, without exception.
In April 2020, the Houthi rebels sentenced four journalists to death on charges of spying for Saudi Arabia because they worked for media that supported the Al-Islah Party. Their conviction is the subject of an appeal. We call for their release.
In June 2020, unidentified gunmen murdered the photographer Nabil Hasan Al-Qaety outside his home in Dar Sad, a suburb of Aden. The Southern Transitional Council has not conducted any investigation with the aim of bringing those responsible to justice.
The photographer Abdullah Bukeir has been held in Hadramout province since 27 May 2020 on charges of “forming an armed group” and “endangering the province’s governor” because he shared a photo of a box of tissues personalized with the governor’s portrait. His provisional detention has just been extended.
In conclusion, RSF reminds the authorities of their duty to protect journalists, who must on no account be treated as parties to the conflict. RSF calls for the release of all imprisoned journalists and for the truth to be established in the cases of those who have been murdered.