YEMEN: Death sentence against prominent writer
PEN is deeply concerned about the death sentence issued by a Houthi court in Sana’a against Yahya al-Jubaihi, a prominent Yemeni writer and journalist, after a grossly unfair trial. He had been arbitrarily detained since September 2016. PEN fears that Al-Jubaihi’s detention and death sentence are related to his articles criticizing the Houthi insurgence.
Our organization calls for Yahya al-Jubaihi’s death sentence to be quashed. Yahya al-Jubaihi should be released or retried in proceedings that conform to international fair trial standards and without the possibility of a death sentence.
Please send appeals urging the Houthi authorities to:
- Quash Yahya al-Jubaihi’s death sentence;
- Ensure that Yahya al-Jubaihi is released or granted a retrial in accordance with international fair trial standards without resort to the death penalty;
- Ensure the full respect of his rights as a prisoner, in accordance with international human rights standards;
- Ensure the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, including the release of all detainees held solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights.
Please write to:
Deputy Minister for Human Rights
Mr. Ali Saleh Taiseer
Ministry of Human Rights
Sixty Street, next to the UN Building
PO Box: 16313, Sana’a, Yemen
Email: [email protected]
Please inform PEN of any action you take, and of any responses you receive.
Yahya al-Jubaihi, 61 years old, is a writer and journalist. He is a member of the Arab Journalists’ Association and Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate. He has published research studies and articles and written regular columns in many Yemeni and other Arabic newspapers such as Okaz and al-Madina. Of particular note is an article he published in December 2015 in which he sharply criticized the Houthi raids and invasions of some regions in Yemen. According to news reports, this article led to his arrest and conviction. Al-Jubaihi studied media at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia and obtained a Master’s degree in International Media in 1986 from Indiana University in the U.S. He worked as media director at the Council of Ministers in Yemen between 1987 and 1997 and lectured “media and development” at the University of Sana’a in the Faculty of Media.
On September 6, 2016, Al-Jubaihi was arrested by Houthi uniformed security agents in front of his house in the Yemeni capital Sana’a; they also broke into his home and confiscated his electronic devices, books, and other documents. According to his family, Al-Jubaihi was transferred to several prisons and detention centers before being sentenced to death on April 12, 2017, by a Houthi rebel court in Sana’a. According to news reports, the verdict was issued without respect of the principles of fair trial: most egregiously, lawyers were not allowed to meet Al-Jubaihi or to attend the hearing. The court decision was pronounced after only one hearing. Al-Jubaihi was found guilty of spying for a foreign country (Saudi Arabia) and helping rival President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who resigned in January 2015 after pressure from the Houthis. Before being arrested in September 2016, Al-Jubaihi had received anonymous threats and was asked to write an article supporting the Houthi presence in Sana’a, which he refused to do. During his detention, Al-Jubaihi was denied access to medical care despite being in poor health.
This is the first time a death sentence has been issued against a writer under Houthi authority. On April 10, 2017, 36 activists, among them bloggers, writers, human rights defenders, and professors, appeared before the same court in Sana’a. All of them were arbitrarily arrested during the last two years without charge or fair trial. According to a news report, the activists bore signs of torture and other ill-treatment. They are being accused of disruption and making assassination attempts. To date no verdict has been reached in this case. PEN will continue to closely monitor the situation of these activists and to call for full respect of the right to freedom of expression.
The situation for freedom of expression and opinion in Yemen has declined sharply since 2014, following the Houthis’ invasion of Sana’a. Many journalists have been forced to flee the country. The Committee to Protect Journalists considered Yemen to be the second deadliest place in the world for journalists in 2016.