Download the full report - Human Rights Watch

Download the full report - Human Rights Watch

The Sa’da Conflict

Fighting between government troops and an armed group known as Huthis broke out in the

Sa’da area of northern Yemen in 2004 and continued intermittently, despite several short

lived agreements and ceasefires, until 2010. For much of the period, the government

maintained a media blackout on the fighting and denied access to the conflict area to

independent journalists and human rights monitors amid reports of serious human rights

abuses. In 2008, Human Rights Watch reported that government restrictions on free

expression had hampered investigations into alleged rights abuses. These restrictions

included complete denial of access to areas affected by fighting and arbitrary arrests of

those leaving such areas, threats against journalists, and the disconnection of many

mobile telephone numbers. 55

The authorities also harassed journalists who sought to report on the displacement of

civilians and the other humanitarian impacts of the conflict, going as far as to prosecute

some on charges of endangering “national security.” 56 In June 2008, for example, the

Specialized Criminal Court sentenced journalist Abd al-Karim al-Khaiwani to six years in

prison for writing articles criticizing the conflict with the Huthis, although President Saleh

pardoned and released him three months later. 57

Secessionist Movement in the South

In 2009, amid growing calls for secession in Aden and other parts of the south, the

authorities sought to muzzle independent and anti-government reporting, intensifying

action they had already taken against a number of journalists. In May 2009, the Ministry of

Information suspended the publishing licenses of eight daily and weekly newspapers after

they published photographs, interviews, and other reports showing the security forces

committing violence against pro-secession protesters. The Minister of Information accused

the newspapers of breaking the law by publishing articles “against national unity and the

country’s highest interests,” and “inciting violations of law and order, spreading hatred

55 Human Rights Watch, Disappearances and Arbitrary Arrests in the Armed Conflict with Huthi Rebels in Yemen, October 24,

2008,, p. 38-45.

56 Article 19, “Yemen: Freedom of Expression in Peril,” p. 5.

57 Human Rights Watch, Report on Human Rights in Yemen, February 1, 2012,, p. 12.


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