Yemeni journalist Sabri Bin Makhashin still in prison more than a month after criticising governor

UAE-trained cadets of the Yemeni police play bugles during a graduation ceremony in the port city of Mukalla, capital of Hadramaut province, Yemen, 8 August 2018
UAE-trained cadets of the Yemeni police play bugles during a graduation ceremony in the port city of Mukalla, capital of Hadramaut province, Yemen, 8 August 2018.  KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on on 11 January 2019.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is concerned for the health of journalist Sabri Salmeen bin Makhashin, who remains in the prison of the Military Intelligence Service in the province of Hadhramaut, where the governor, who was criticised in his writings, refuses to release him.

Bin Makhashin, the editor-in-chief of Al-Mohrer newspaper, was arrested on 3 December 2018. An appeal from his family five days after his detention stated that his health had already suffered as a result of poor conditions in prison, and that he had been refused medication, including for his diabetes. Despite health problems and lack of medication, bin Makhashin had been on hunger strike since his arrest. No reason was given for his arrest. However local reports confirm that it is related to his publications on social media in which he criticised the governor of Hadhramaut, Faraj Al-Bahasni. He wrote, "The governor makes use of an electronic army using fake names, as well as state media institutions and military intelligence, to monitor our actions, monitor our communications, our homes and business sites, spread lies and accusations against us and encourage public and non-public incitement."

Another journalist who was arrested last year in Hadhramaut was held for less than a month. GCHR has learned of the release of prominent independent journalist Awad Kashmeem, who was detained on 21 February 2018 by the Yemeni Army's elite security forces.

Kashmeem is well known for his campaigns against corruption and his strong critique of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s military practices in Hadhramaut. The order for his arrest had also come directly from the governor of Hadhramaut. GCHR welcomes the news that Kashmeem was released by the criminal prosecution of the judiciary on 18 March 2018, and calls for a guarantee that Kashmeem and other journalists are able to continue their work in a secure and safe space, and for their freedom of expression to be respected. Yemen remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

GCHR urges the authorities in Hadhramaut, Yemen to:

. Immediately and unconditionally release Sabri Salmeen bin Makhashin;

. Guarantee Sabri Salmeen bin Makhashin's access to a lawyer and family visitations;

. Guarantee the physical and psychological safety of Sabri Salmeen bin Makhashin while he remains in detention; and

. Guarantee that all journalists, including Sabri Salmeen bin Makhashin and Awad Kashmeem, are able to carry out their legitimate work without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

GCHR respectfully reminds all parties to the conflict in Yemen, that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters", and to Article 12 (1 and 2): "(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration."

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