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UN experts appeal for immediate and unconditional release of the Baha’is in Yemen

GENEVA (23 April 2020) – UN human rights experts* have urged the de facto authorities in Sana’a to speed up the unconditional release of all Baha’i detainees,  following the pardoning of Baha’i prisoner of conscience Hamid bin Haydara announced on 25 March.

“We welcomed the pardon of Mr. Haydara and the order to release all Baha’i prisoners issued last month by Mahdi Al Mashat, Head of the de facto Government,” the experts said. 

“The public announcement clearly affirmed that all charges had been dropped against them and that they would be released unconditionally without delay,” they noted.

For several years, the experts have expressed their concerns over the unlawful prosecution of Baha’is in Yemen. This includes Mr. Haydara, whose controversial death sentence was upheld, and five other Baha’is who were on trial at the time when the pardoning and order to release were publicly announced.

“We are however surprised and dismayed that following the pardoning and release order, the judicial authorities are imposing conditions such as commercial bond for the release of the five Baha’is currently on trial,” the experts said, noting that the Prosecutor confirmed receipt of the order in early April.

“We strongly recommend against any rollback of the official decision to pardon and release which was communicated unequivocally. This would violate the fundamental rights of those affected,” the experts stressed. 

“The de facto authorities in Yemen should drop any charges and release Mr. Haydara and all other Baha’is promptly without any conditions to honour the commitment made by Mr. Al Mashat in his welcomed pardoning announcement.”

The group of UN human rights experts also called on the authorities to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief of the Baha’is and all other religious minorities in the country.

ENDS

*The UN experts: The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed; the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez (Chair), Leigh Toomey (Vice-Chair), Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Seong-Phil Hong and Sètondji Roland Adjovi; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Agnes Callamard and the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes RP.

Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Councils independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Check the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

UN Human Rights, country page: Yemen

For more information and media requests please contact: Ms. Chian Yew Lim (+ 41 22 917 99 38 / clim@ohchr.org

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9445 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

Follow news related to the UNs independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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