Defend International (DI) welcomes the decision of the Specialised Criminal Court in Yemen today on the release of prisoners of opinion Mr. Abdel Karim Al-Khaiwani.
DI Defenders in Yemen have briefed us this good news and stated that the judge of the competent criminal court had decided to release him after being detained since June 20, 2007.
The Specialised Criminal Court had received a medical report that revealed how Mr. Al-Khaiwani’s life was in grave danger as he suffers from a heart condition. The criminal prosecution tried to overturn the judge’s decision, but the judge insisted that Al-Khaiwani’s health condition required his release.
It is noteworthy to note that Defend International had launched a campaign for the release of Mr. Al-Khaiwani and asked its members and friends to send appeals to the Yemeni authorities calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Al-Khaiwani. They urged the authorities to ensure that he is not going to be subjected to torture or any other kinds of inhuman or ill-treatment. Members and supporters of Defend International sent many appeals to His Excellency the President of Yemen, and to the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Human Rights.
We do appreciate the worldwide support for our campaign and we offer our thanks to all human rights defenders who stepped forward and demanded justice for Mr. Al-Khaiwani.
However we are deeply concerned about the collective punishment measures directed against certain segment of Yemen society, including suspension from duty, arrests and imprisonment. Detainees have also been denied access to lawyers, and given no opportunity to challenge the legality of their detention before a court. Such measures are carried out with total disregard for the rule of law and for Yemen’s international human rights obligations.
Defend International calls on the Yemeni government to put an end to sanctions imposed on journalists in particular; and to ensure respect for freedom of thought and the right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Yemen on the 9th of February 1987.