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. 


Jordan king says Israeli annexation would be a disaster

Updated 18 September 2019

Jordan king says Israeli annexation would be a disaster

  • Abdullah said “we’re looking on this with tremendous concern.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Tuesday that if Israel went ahead with the idea of annexing all the settlements in the West Bank it would be a “disaster” for attempts to find any two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Abdullah said he was “extremely concerned” about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to annex all the West Bank settlements.

He said it will “directly impact” the relationship between Israel and Jordan, and Israel and Egypt, and that “these types of statements are ... a disaster to any attempt to move forward to the two-state solution.”

Merkel agreed, calling Netanyahu’s vow “unhelpful.” The German government backs an internationally negotiated peace solution in the sense of a two state solution ... annexations are always detrimental to peace solutions. They do not help and therefore we do not agree, said Merkel

Abdullah said “we’re looking on this with tremendous concern.”

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Netanyahu’s career was on the line on Tuesday as Israel held its second national election this year, with voters deciding whether to give him another term in office despite a likely indictment on corruption charges.

The longest serving leader in Israeli history was seeking a fourth consecutive term in office and fifth overall. 

But he faced a stiff challenge from retired military chief Benny Gantz, whose centrist Blue and White party is running even with Netanyahu’s Likud. 

Both parties could struggle to form a majority coalition with smaller allies, though, forcing them into a potential unity government.