Houthis, UAE 'tortured and killed' Yemenis in unofficial prisons

Houthis, UAE 'tortured and killed' Yemenis in unofficial prisons
Common practices in these 11 detention facilities includes beatings, electrocutions, and being deprived food and water.
2 min read
30 June, 2020
Interviewees claimed to have been witness to extensive beatings, nail removals, and electric shocks. [Getty]
Yemen's Houthi rebels and UAE forces are responsible for thousands of human rights violations carried out in unofficial detention centres, according to research published on Tuesday by rights group Mwatana.

In their battle against the Saudi-led coalition between 2016 and 2020, the Houthi rebel group was found accountable for more than half of 1,605 arbitrary detentions, 770 enforced disappearances, and 344 cases of torture documented in the report, and also responsible for 27 deaths in these unofficial prisons.

Common practices in these 11 detention facilities included beatings, electrocutions, and depriving prisoners of food and water.

"In these unofficial centres, the use of which has greatly expanded during Yemen's war, monitors and families very rarely have access to detainees," said the advocacy director of Mwatana, Osamah Alfakih.

"The number of deaths in detention is huge and reflects clearly the disrespectful attitude towards human rights all parties to the conflict have. The impunity with which the warring parties act is a huge problem."

Investigations and field visits by the rights group collected thousands of interviews with ex-detainees who pointed to the UAE and its proxies for the most heinous crimes committed, such as hanging detainees upside down for hours and the burning of genitalia.

UAE forces were accused of a total of 419 cases of arbitrary and abusive detentions, 327 disappearances, 141 claims of torture and 25 deaths.

Similar violations carried out by the Saudi-backed government, which includes the Islah Party, counted 282 detentions, 90 disappearances, 65 cases of torture and 14 deaths.

Yemenis once held by the Houthi security and intelligence agency in the capital Sanaa told the group they had witnessed extensive beatings, nails being pulled out, and electric shocks being administered.

Detainees at a prison in Abyan said they were forced to drink urine, subjected to sexual torture, and witnessed dead bodies being dumped in the yard of the neighbouring hospital.

With these dire conditions in both official and unofficial detention centres in Yemen worsened by the breakout of the coronavirus, Mwatana is demanding that all parties release extrajudicial prisoners who are at risk of catching the deadly disease.

The war in Yemen has killed more than 100,000 people and created the world's worst humanitarian disaster, with more than 3 million people internally displaced and two-thirds of the population reliant on food assistance for survival.

The situation in Yemen is expected to get worse as donor countries recently cut back on aid amid the coronavirus pandemic and also due to concerns that the supplies might not be reaching its intended recipients in territories controlled by the Houthis.

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