Rights group slams Yemen journalist’s death sentence

Houthi-imposed death sentence sets a dangerous precedent for journalists in Yemen. (Reuters)
Updated 14 April 2017
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Rights group slams Yemen journalist’s death sentence

DUBAI: Reporters Without Borders said Friday it was “appalled” at a death sentence handed to a veteran journalist by a court in Yemen’s rebel-held capital.
The court in Sanaa, which is controlled by Iran-backed Houthi insurgents, on Thursday found Yahya Al-Jubaihi guilty of spying for neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was the first death sentence issued against a journalist in Yemen.
“This Houthi-imposed death sentence sets a dangerous precedent for journalists in Yemen,” said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk.
“Issued at the end of an unfair trial, it constitutes a grave violation of international law. We urge Houthi leaders to free this journalist at once,” she said.
The Houthis hail from Yemen’s Shiite-linked Zaidi minority in northern Yemen.
Since March 2015, oil-rich Saudi Arabia has been leading a deadly military intervention against the Houthis and their allies in the kingdom’s impoverished neighbor.
The Houthis, supported by renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have controlled all government institutions in Sanaa since they overran the capital in September 2014.
Rival bodies loyal to internationally recognized president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi operate out of second city Aden or from exile in Saudi Arabia.
Yemen’s press union on Thursday condemned the sentence as “arbitrary” and accused the rebels of “targeting press freedom.”
It said Jubaihi, 61, was seized from his home on September 6.
Press watchdogs and human rights groups have been deeply critical of the rebels’ treatment of journalists as the conflict in the Arabian peninsula country has escalated over the past two years.
Eight reporters were killed in Yemen last year, according to the International Federation of Journalists.
RSF says at least 16 journalists and media workers are currently being held by armed groups in Yemen including the Houthis and Al-Qaeda.
Yemen is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in the organization’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.


Russia says Syrian government forces has halted fire in Idlib

Updated 20 May 2019
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Russia says Syrian government forces has halted fire in Idlib

  • The last round of violence also displaced some 180,000 in opposition-held areas
DAMASCUS: Syrian government forces have unilaterally ceased fire in the northern Idlib province, the last major opposition stronghold, Russia said on Sunday, while opposition activists reported continued shelling and airstrikes.
Fighting erupted in Idlib late last month, effectively shattering a cease-fire negotiated by Russia and Turkey that had been in place since September. Russia has firmly backed Syria’s Bashar Assad regime in the eight-year civil war, while Turkey has supported the opposition.
In a brief statement on Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Sides in Syria said regime forces had ceased fire as of midnight. It described the move as unilateral, but did not give details.
The pro-government Syrian Central Military Media said regime forces responded to shelling by militants on Sunday on the edge of Idlib. It gave no further details.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitoring group, reported an airstrike on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, saying it inflicted casualties.
The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense also reported shelling near the town of Jisr Al-Shughour without reporting any casualties.
Syrian government forces intensified their attacks as of April 30 on Idlib. The area is home to some 3 million people, many of whom are internally displaced. The last round of violence also displaced some 180,000 in opposition-held areas.