Press releasesOffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Yemen: Due process
06 March 2020
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell Location: Geneva
Date: 6 March2020
GENEVA (6 March 2020) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday said it is essential that governments introducing measures to impede the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, undertake a range of additional actions to reduce the potentially negative impact such measures may have on people’s lives.
“As a medical doctor, I understand the need for a range of steps to combat COVID-19, and as a former head of government, I understand the often difficult balancing act when hard decisions need to be taken,” Bachelet said. “However our efforts to combat this virus won’t work unless we approach it holistically, which means taking great care to protect the most vulnerable and neglected people in society, both medically and economically.”
“Such people include those on low incomes, isolated rural populations, people with underlying health conditions, people with disabilities and older people living alone or in institutions,” she added.
Lockdowns, quarantines and other such measures to contain and combat the spread of COVID-19 should always be carried out in strict accordance with human rights standards and in a way that is necessary and proportionate to the evaluated risk -- but even when they are, they may have serious repercussions on people’s lives, the High Commissioner said.
We are very concerned that 35 Yemeni parliamentarians have been sentenced to death - in absentia and by a court in Houthi-held Sana’a - on treason charges, and their property confiscated and their families threatened. We call on the de facto authorities to immediately quash the sentences against the MPs, and to ensure their families are not harassed.
The pro-government MPs were sentenced by the Houthi-controlled Specialized Criminal Court in Sana’a on 3 March. None were in northern, Houthi-controlled territory at the time of the sentencings. We are extremely concerned by the overall conduct of the trial and that it is politically motivated, as well its failure to comply with international norms and standards.
Our Office understands the politicians were sentenced to death for “having taken actions threatening the stability of the republic of Yemen, its unity, and security of its territory”. The charge relates to their participation in a parliamentary meeting held in Saywun (Hadramaut governorate) on 11 April 2019, which was called by internationally recognized President Abdo Rabo Mansour Hadi.
Following the issue of the sentences in Sana’a, we received reports that the homes of some parliamentarians in Sana’a were ransacked by a group of the Houthi women police, and their family members, who were inside their homes, given 24 hours to leave their property.
We remind the de facto authorities that the death penalty is an extreme form of punishment reserved for the “most serious crimes” involving intentional killing. lf used at all, it should only be imposed after a fair trial that respects the most stringent due process guarantees as stipulated in international human rights law.