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The International Observatory of Human Rights is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of 4 innocent Yemeni journalists who have been sentenced to death by a Houthi backed court for simply doing their job of covering the war in Yemen.

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Open letter:

An Appeal on World Press Freedom Day- 3 May 2020

The International Observatory for Human Rights calls on Yemen to pardon the four journalists who are condemned to death and to release all media workers amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

To: Field Marshall Mahdi al-Mashat
President of the Supreme Political Council of the Houthi movement 
Cc: Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi – President of the Republic of Yemen
Martin Griffiths – UN Special Envoy to Yemen

Dear Sirs,

Journalism is not a crime, and it is not just to sentence four men to death simply for doing their job covering the civil war in Yemen. The International Observatory of Human Rights calls on you to immediately and unconditionally release the following journalists:

  1. Abdul Khaleq Imran
  2. Akram El Walidi
  3. Harith Hamid
  4. Tawfiq Al-Mansouri

We respect the independence of the Yemeni courts, but we appeal to you to reverse the death sentences of April 11, 2020 against these four journalists, and intervene to pardon them.
Since their arrest in 2015, these professional journalists have continued to suffer from documented torture and detention in life-threatening conditions which has caused their health to deteriorate.

The International Observatory of Human Rights calls on you to drop the charges against all 10 journalists who have been on trial, headed by Judge Muhammad Muflih, including the six journalists who were convicted in the case.

Although these six journalists have been sentenced for release they are deemed to be “half-free”, since they are obliged to appear daily at a police station for the next three years, and answer inquiries regarding their location and their activities in general. This is a clear violation of basic human rights. Therefore, we respectfully demand that this condition be dropped, so that they can restore their sense of normalcy.
More than 30 journalists have been killed in Yemen in recent years, while more than 200 media professionals have been arrested and subjected to unlawful torture and arbitrary

Currently, around 16 reporters are still in detention, although it is difficult to verify the numbers accurately in the current situation.
The International Observatory of Human Rights has obtained official documents, as evidence that some of the journalists have been used as bargaining chips, and have been exchanged with Houthi fighters detained by the authorities and representatives of the warring parties involved in the conflict.
Journalists, and media professionals, play an important role in reporting independently without fear or favour, especially within conflict areas. A free press is the foundation of any civilized country, and freedom of expression is an important factor in creating an accurate record of events and establishing confidence in the future of Yemen and its people.
Therefore, manipulating the rule of law to criminalize journalists for their work, by developing legislation restricting media freedom, defamation, or considering journalists as terrorists and spies, by expanding anti-terrorism laws, simply destroys confidence in the judiciary and the power of the ruling authority.
The ten journalists were forbidden from obtaining appropriate legal representation and enough time to spend with their lawyers since The International Observatory of Human Rights learned from private sources who attended one of the sessions that the trial did not follow the due process of law recognised by international tribunals.
The indictment prepared by the Public Prosecution in Case No. 40 of 2019 stated that it accused the ten journalists of broadcasting “news, data and rumours of a false and pernicious nature, and carried out crude advertising with the intention of weakening the defence of the people and weakening morale in general. Obstructing public security, creating a state of panic among people, and harming public interests.”

The public prosecutor requested that the “maximum possible punishment” be applied to these journalists in accordance with Articles 16 (which includes the maximum death penalty), 21, 103 and 136 of Yemen’s Law No. 12. No journalist should face execution for reporting news and the legal process should not be hijacked to make that possible.
The international community stands with the Yemeni people to overcome the “worst humanitarian crisis” resulting from the years of war and the Coronavirus pandemic. We the undersigned appeal to you to show compassion and save these four lives at a time when people look to you to lead them towards a path of hope. A gesture towards these four journalists and their families can send a message to the world that the leadership in Yemen respects the value of life and freedom of expression.

And since we are in the blessed month of Ramadan, Yemen has a great opportunity to show the world the tolerance, humility, and mercy that Islamic teachings encourage, instead of facing condemnation from the international community and from organizations concerned with freedom of the press because of this brutal act.
We the undersigned urge you to act now, and to release the four journalists and all innocent media professionals in Yemen.
Yours sincerely,

Valerie Peay
Director of The International Observatory of Human Rights


Canadian Journalists For Free Expression – CJFE
Abdel Sattar Hetita Former Editor in Chief of Al Sharq Al Awsat Newspaper
Mohamed Fahmy CEO-Investigative Journal- Founder Fahmy Foundation
Mansour Al Rasmi Yemeni-based Journalist
Lee Wolosky American diplomat and attorney, served as the U.S. Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure in the Barack Obama Administration
Maria Ressa Founder and CEO of Rappler – Journalist named Time Magazine 2018 Person of the Year
Paulo Casaca Founder/Director of the South Asia Democratic Forum / Former Portuguese socialist party MP
Tim Loughton MP Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Yemen – UK Parliament
Metro Center for Advocacy and Journalists
Greg Roman Director of Middle East Forum in the USA
Philippe Karsenty
Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights
Taha Siddiqui
Atef Awad Former Parliamentary MP
Abbas Alkaabi President of the National Organization for the Liberation of Ahwaz (Hazm)
Abbas Mahmoud Professor at Cairo University
Abdelrahman Hassan Editor-in-chief, mnalmsdr news website
Abdullah Bozkurt President of the Stockholm Center for Freedom
Abdullah Mubarak Alrashed Editor-in-Chief, Newsbox News
Adel Alneel Ibrahim Journalist
Adel Awad Cinematic Director
Dr. Adil Abdul Nasser Hussein Retired Professor
Ahmed S Yalya Counter terrorism and Operations Chief of the Turkish Police
Ahmed Samaha Writer
Dr. Aida Abdul Nasser Hussein Retired Academic
Alaa Elbadry Journalist and Media Consultant
Ali M. AlAgawany Former Parliamentary MP
Aliya Alwi Journalist, co-founder of Write in Stone
Amnimesh Roul Executive Director Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict
Annette Fisher Aid Consultant
Ashraf Elsayed Ahmad Maher General Manager, Al-Yaum for advertising and publishing
Austin Mackell Former journalist, co-founder founder of Write In Stone.
Baseer Naveed Human Rights Activist, Hong Kong
Burak Bekadil Middle East Forum
Charles Jacobs Americans for Peace and Tolerance
Clifford D. May Founder and President: The Foundation for Defence of Democracies
Daniel Lanyon Editor in Chief of ALTFI
Diar Umary Journalist
Douglas Burton Former U.S. State Department in Kirkuk, Iraq
Dr. Ahmed Khalil Lecturer at Cairo University
Dr. Ashraf Moustafa Hamid Radwan Former Al-Yaum Newspaper
Dr. Mohamed Basyouni Journalist
Dr. Mohamed Gomaa Khamis Researcher, Al Ahram Center For Political and Strategic Studies
Dr. Ahmed Kamel Neurosurgeon and Spokesman of Egyptian Health Ministry
Dr. Omar Ismail Labour Party Secretary- Watford
Dr. Osama Mahdi Journalist
Eman Embaby Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Al-Ahram Newspaper
Emil Chireno Director, Dominican Council of International Relations
Engy El Hussieny Writer
Entifadh Qanbar President/Founder of Future Foundation Washington
Faris Al-Kindi CEO- Yemeni Cultural Gathering
Farooq Kassibawi Human Rights Activist/Vlogger
Fathy Elhissary Chairman, Hamsa House for Publishing and Distribution
Fayad Al Numan Deputy Assistant of Yemeni Ministry of Information
Freedom Network
Gamal Eid Executive Director at the Arabic Network for Human Rights
General Abdul-Hameed Khayrat Former Deputy Head of Egyptian State Security
Ghassan Anwar Khattab General manager, Target Point
Hamed Ezzeldin Journalist, Akhbar Elyuom Newspaper
Hany Moustafa El Nahas Human Rights Activist
Hossam Hagrass Media and political researcher
Ibrahim Mohamed Radwan Journalist- October Magazine
Ikhlas Al- Kurashi Media Consultant/Human Rights Activist
Iqbal Khattak Director Freedom Network, Pakistan
Jack Saltzberg
Jonathan Shanzer Senior Vice President Foundation for Defence and Democracies
Joseph Hammond iDove Fellow with African Union
Khaled Abu Ahmed Journalist
Khaled Elkalyouby Journalist & Human Rights Activist
Khalid Alowigan Political Columnist
Khalid Elkilany Lawyer & Writer
Leon Vinokur VP, The Chevra
M. Zuhdi Jasser President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Arizona
Mahmoud Attia Sharf Mohamed Public Relations Expert
Mahmoud Nafadi Deputy Editor in Chief, Al-Gomhuria Newspaper
Mhamoud Darwish Journalist
Michael Rubin American Enterprise Institute
Mohamed Abdo Mohamed Othman Journalist
Mohamed Assem Journalist- Al-Gomhuria Newspaper
Mohamed Eljurany Founder/Director, Radio of Arabs in USA & Canada
Mohamed Hagrass Journalist- Al Arab Newspaper- London
Mohamed Matri Smida Editor-inc-Chief- Al Anwar Newspaper
Mohamed Motassem Journalist- CBC News
Mohammad Almadhaji Journalist
Mona Abdul Radi National Front of Egyptian Women
Mona Gadalla Founder/Director, Yahala Arab Radio
Mutaru Mumuni Executive Director of the West Africa Center for Counter Extremism
Nasr Elkaffas Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Al-Ahram Newspaper
Nasser Barood Alqarni Informative Operation Manager
Nina Rosenwald Gatestone Institute
Osama Kamal TV Presenter
Rabia Mehmood Journalist, Human Right Activist, Pakistan
Saeed Khan Islamic Studies Academic
Sameh Abdelhamid Media advisor, Ministery of Justice
Samiha Siad Journalist
Sarah N. Stern Founder and President of Endowment for the Middle East Truth
Sayed Osman Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Al-Gomhuria Newspaper
Shahzad Irfan Human Rights Activist, USA
Tariq Abdul Nasser Hussein Retired General
Tom Hennefer Vice President Arctic Research Foundation
Turgot Oglu London Today
Uchenna Eckwo President, Center for Media and Peace Initiatives
Wahid Hamed Scriptwriter
Waleed Alrifai Lawyer
yasser Abualezz Ahmed Journalist, Al-Gomhuria Newspaper
Yehia Shokry Former Engineering Director, Orascom company
Yousef Al Hosseini TV/ Radio Host
Yousri Ishaq Publisher of The In+B83:C108vestigative Journal
Samir Ghitas Member of Egyptian Parliament
Mohamed Al Oraby Former Foreign Minister of Egypt. 2. Samir Ghitas: Member of Egypt Parliament
Ahmed Shafik Former Editor, Al-Wafd portal and Arabic News Egypt
Wael Al Nabwani Journalist
Anees Mohamed Bujwary Scriptwriter
Adel Ebrahim Journalist, Middle East News Agency
Moutassim Elharith Eldawi Political PR Consultant
Sameh Habeeb Director, International Centre for Relations & Diplomacy- Uxbridge
Dr. Turki H. Alhamad Author KSA
Saqr Abdullah Abu Hassan Journalist
Tim McSorley International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG)
Lord Dubs Member of the House of Lords

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