UN urges Yemen Houthi court to review 30 death sentences

UN human rights spokeswoman said the sentenced were not given an appropriate chance to present a defense. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 July 2019
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UN urges Yemen Houthi court to review 30 death sentences

  • Most of those sentenced to death are academics, students and politicians who supported Islah party
  • Islah was part of the Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi government and is critical of Houthis

GENEVA: Thirty men were sentenced to death by Houthi authorities in Yemen this week amid credible allegations that many were tortured during three years of politically-motivated detention, the UN human rights office said on Friday.
It urged the Appellate Court in the Houthi-held capital of Sanaa, which is due to review the ruling, to take into account the serious allegations and violations of their right to a fair trial and due process in the lower court.
The specialised first instance criminal court handed down the death sentences on Tuesday, UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.
Most of the 30 men are academics, students and politicians “affiliated with the Islah party that has been critical of the Houthis”, she told a news briefing. She was referring to an Islamist party that is part of the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
“At no point were they given a proper chance to present a defense,” Shamdasani said.
Houthi officials did not respond immediately to a Reuters request for comment.
The men were arrested in 2016 and charged in April 2017 with allegedly participating in an organised armed group intending to carry out attacks on or assassinations of security personnel and popular committees affiliated with the Houthis, and providing intelligence to other parties, Shamdasani said.
“There is a high likelihood that many of these charges are politically-motivated. There are very credible allegations of torture and mistreatment, our teams have been able to speak to families,” Shamdasani said.
“Any politically-motivated charges should be dismissed and international fair trial standards fully complied with,” she said.
Amnesty International, in a statement this week, denounced what it called a “sham trial” where the 30 men faced “trump-up charges including espionage for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.”
Detainees include Youssef Al-Bawab, a linguistics professor and political figure who was held in incommunicado detention amid allegations of torture and lack of access to legal counsel and medical care, the London-based group said. 


UK warns British ships to avoid Hormuz Strait

Updated 10 min 8 sec ago
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UK warns British ships to avoid Hormuz Strait

LONDON: London Saturday advised British ships to avoid the Strait of Hormuz for “an interim period” following Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker.
“We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s unacceptable actions which represent a clear challenge to international freedom of navigation,” a government spokeswoman said following an overnight meeting of the government’s COBRA emergencies committee to discuss the crisis.
“We have advised UK shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period.”
She noted comments by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier that “there will be serious consequences if the situation is not resolved.”
She added that there will be further meetings over the weekend and “we remain in close contact with our international partners.”
Hunt said on Saturday that he was worried that Iran had taken a “dangerous path” after it seized a British-flagged tanker on Friday.
“Yesterday’s action in Gulf shows worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilizing behavior after Gibraltar’s LEGAL detention of oil bound for Syria,” Hunt said on Twitter.
“As I said yesterday our reaction will be considered but robust. We have been trying to find a way to resolve Grace1 issue but WILL ensure the safety of our shipping.”
The British navy seized Iran’s Grace 1 tanker in Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion of smuggling oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Friday it had seized the British-flagged Swedish-owned Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz for breaking “international maritime rules.”
Iranian authorities alleged Saturday the ship had collided with a fishing boat. It said the tanker was now at anchor off the port of Bandar Abbas with all its crew aboard.