In the name of national security... human rights violations in Yemen.

Paris, Sana’a - On the eve of the High Level Conference on Yemen organised in London by the British Prime Minister, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its partner organizations in Yemen, Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF) and the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (HOOD) release a report documenting the pattern of human rights violations committed by the Yemeni authorities in the context of the fight against terrorism.

Since the launching of its anti-terror campaigns, Yemen has a dismal human rights record, with a heavy pattern of torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary and mass arrests and incommunicado detentions. These repressive acts are supported by an arbitrary judiciary, the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) which broaden the counter-terrorism policy to include all those suspected of the vague crimes against national security. Thus, unarmed political activists (the so-called Southern Movement), journalists, academics, and other opinion-makers engaged in denouncing governmental policy are targeted as well.

The draft Anti-terrorism law which potentially targets fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly could be a strengthened tool legitimizing further human rights violations.

While the London Conference on Yemen will address the challenges of terrorism as well as the agenda for political reforms, FIDH, SAF and HOOD call upon the international community to call the Yemeni Government to fully respect human rights while countering terrorism.

This conference intervenes while the international community is likely to insist on the importance of Yemeni’s efforts to combat terrorism, which should not translate into increased human rights violations. The mobilisation on human rights is thus paramount.

In Yemen, on January 24th, a civil society group organised a parallel forum to the London Conference, calling the international community to “Guarantee Our safety, Freedom and Rights as Pre-requisites to Fighting Terrorism".

FIDH, Hood and SAF also urge the International Community to tackle the root causes of the degraded security situations. While the 2008 food crisis had a huge impact on the poorer parts of the population, the global economic crisis impacted on oil revenue and remittances, leaving public finances in a precarious situation. The unresolved conflict in the Northern region of Saada and the absence of a genuine political dialogue between parties involved also bare a burden on the Government’s incapacity to confront the crisis. These issues should be part of the solutions proposed by the Conference.

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