Geneva - Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor has sent an urgent open letter to Hans Grundberg, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, regarding the deteriorating health of Yemeni journalist Tawfiq al-Mansouri, who has been arbitrarily detained for nearly seven years and sentenced to death by the Houthi group.
In 2020 April, a Houthi-run court issued a death sentence against detained journalists al-Mansouri, Akram Al-Walidy, Abdul-Khaleq Omran, and Harith Hamid, on charges of collaborating with the Arab coalition. The detainees have been subjected to various types of physical and psychological torture, plus a trial that lacked the minimum conditions of justice.
“During the course of his detention, al-Mansouri has experienced the exacerbation of multiple health problems—some of which are now life-threatening—due to harsh prison conditions and lack of medical care”, Ramy Abdu, Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor, wrote in the letter.
“He shares his sentence with three other journalists who are also sentenced to death on charges that appear to be trumped-up, following a trial marred by many legal irregularities”, Abdu added.
Family members of al-Mansouri told Euro-Med Monitor that he suffers from heart problems, shortness of breath, diabetes, high blood pressure, and benign prostate enlargement, as well as swelling of the face and limbs. His condition may worsen at any moment given the dire circumstances of his detention, including denial of medical care, physical and psychological torture, contaminated water, lack of food, and, on occasion, denial of access to the toilet.
Since his transfer to the Central Security Camp prison in Sana’a in 2020 May, the Houthi group has not allowed the family of al-Mansouri to bring him medicine, let alone visit him at all. Moreover, the prison administration illegally seizes a large proportion of the funds the family sends the journalist. Since the transfer, al-Mansouri’s contact with family members has been limited solely to phone calls, which happen only intermittently, and often under surveillance.
Euro-Med Monitor calls on the Special Envoy to urgently intervene with the Houthi group to provide full medical care to al-Mansouri, including transferring him to a specialised hospital and lifting all restrictions that prevent his undergoing any medical procedure that could save his life, as well as exploring the possibility of his release for medical reasons.
Euro-Med Monitor urges Special Envoy Hans Grundberg to take steps to address the issue of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance occurring in Houthi-controlled areas in general, and help expose the harsh sentences the group issues against its opponents—which in some instances amount to execution, as in the case of Tawfiq al-Mansouri and his three fellow journalists. These journalists must be permitted to enjoy their freedom, not arbitrarily sentenced to death.
The Houthi group severely restricts journalistic work in the areas it controls. Many opposing media headquarters in the capital of Sana’a—including television channels, radio stations, newspapers, and websites—have been closed, and some of their workers detained. Afraid for their safety, many journalists have had to flee the country and work from abroad.