The Yemeni Media Freedom Observatory (YMFO) announced that it documented 143 violations of media freedom in Yemen in the course of 2020. The documented violations varied between killings, injuries, kidnappings, assaults and targeting media institutions. The most important violations were the killing of 3 journalists; namely, Nabil Al-Quaiti, Adeeb Al-Janani and Badeel Al-Buraihi, and the death sentences against 11 journalists, including a woman journalist.
The YFMO stated that in addition to cases of killing, 11 death sentences against journalists were issued. Moreover, 7 cases of kidnapping, 10 cases of injury, 11 arrests, 11 assault cases, 15 threats, 4 suspensions from work, 5 violations targeting media institutions and 66 other cases were also monitored.
The YMFO affirmed that all the parties in control in Yemen have practiced different types of documented violations of press freedom with the aim of restricting the freedom of expression to varying degrees, as each party views journalists and defenders of freedom of expression from its own perspective.
The Houthi group tops the list of perpetrators of violations targeting journalists in Yemen, being involved in 70 violations of the total cases documented during the past year. Moreover, 44 violations were committed by parties affiliated with the Yemeni government, 22 violations by unidentified perpetrators, 3 cases committed by parties affiliated with the militants of the Southern Transitional Council (STC), and 4 cases carried out by influential individuals.
The YMFO affirmed that 2020 was a difficult year for the media and freedom of the press in Yemen. Some 11 death sentences were issued against Yemeni journalists in the context of politicized trials that were carried out in a manner that violated the most basic legal rules and procedures and far from justice procedures. Detained journalists were not allowed to meet with lawyers except for some meetings during investigation and trial sessions.
In its annual report on “Violations of Media Freedom in Yemen”, the YMFO reported that 5 media institutions were subjected to various violations during the past year, including the storming and looting of Sumara FM and Alwan Radio by gunmen affiliated with the Houthi group in Ibb governorate. Also, the Press and Publications Court in Sana’a issued a ruling against Al-Hawiyyah Satellite Network which was fined the sum of one million Yemeni rials.
The report included a detailed review of the status of media freedom and the conditions of journalists in the time of the Corona crisis, as the epidemic has multiplied the difficulties faced by media professionals in Yemen.
The report revealed that journalists had been subjected to various violations and restrictions of their journalistic activities. They have received threats and faced difficulties in getting information. A number of newspapers have been stopped in the areas governed by the Yemeni government.
Similarly, journalists in the Houthi-controlled areas are prevented from circulating any news about the Corona epidemic and are satisfied with official data.
During the past year, the report monitored 37 cases of violation in Al-Jawf town, 30 cases in Sana’a city, 22 cases in Taiz, 17 cases in Aden, 15 cases in Hadramout, 10 cases in Marib, and 3 cases in Ibb. Two cases were documented in each of the governorates of Shabwa and al-Dhali’. Finally, a single case of violation was documented in each of the governorates of Hodeidah, Lahj, al-Baida, Socotra, and Abyan.
The YMFO is a monitoring and information platform that aims to publish and circulate information related to the freedom of expression in the various regions of Yemen professionally and independently, as well as analyze and advocate journalists’ issues at the local and international levels.