houthis sentence woman to death in yemen report
In a blow to women’s rights, Houthis in Yemen sentenced a human rights defender to death on charges of espionage and collaboration with the enemy.
Human Rights Watch said that Houthi authorities convicted and sentenced Fatima Saleh al-Arwali, a 35-year-old human rights defender and the former head of the Yemen office of the Arab League’s Union of Women Leaders, to death on charges of espionage.
On December 5, 2023, the Specialized Criminal Prosecution in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, convicted and sentenced the woman to death. The woman had no legal representation at the trial.
Fatima Saleh al-Arwali’s family was able to contact her only twice from detention since she was arrested in August 2022.
What happened to Fatima Saleh al-Arwali?
Fatima Saleh al-Arwali was arrested on August 12, 2022. She was on her way from Aden to Sanaa, which has been controlled by the Houthi members along with much of northern Yemen since 2014. The Houthis had stopped her at a checkpoint entering al-Hawban district in Taizz, a city in southwestern Yemen.
Her family didn’t hear from her again until January 2023. She had no access to legal counsel. A letter to the Houthi foreign minister from United Nations special rapporteurs said that “the Houthi authorities initially denied any knowledge of her arrest or whereabouts when asked by her lawyer.”
In July, Houthis had charged her with “aiding the enemy.” According to the official indictment issued by the Specialized Criminal Prosecution on July 31, the Houthis accused her of helping the enemy. Earlier this month, she was detained, tortured, and sentenced to death by Houthis.
Niku Jafarnia, a researcher in the Middle East and Africa division investigating human rights abuses in Yemen and Bahrain at Human Rights Watch, said, “Repression of human rights defenders and women’s rights activists in Houthi-controlled territories is reaching terrifying new levels.”
Houthis took over Sanaa in 2014. Subsequently, human rights abuses increased rapidly. The Specialized Criminal Prosecution sentenced various people to death.
Human rights activists and defenders reported about systematic abuse in Houthi prisons. The United Nations Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Yemen found that “Houthi-held prisoners are subjected to systematic psychological and physical torture.”