Gulf Center for Human Rights
On 03 April, 2103 a writ was issued by the Press and Publication Prosecutor against human rights defender and journalists, Mohammed Al-Abbsi and Mohammed Ayish, following a complaint brought against them by the Reform Charity Association headed by the Minister of Justice Judge Murshed Al-Arshani. The complaint alleged that Al-Abbsi cursed and insulted the Reform Charity Association and damaged its reputation after they published investigative reports in their newspaper “The First/Al-Oula” which is also being tried as a publisher. The reports focused on the funds provided to people injured during the protests in Yemen which, it was alleged, were not managed in a transparent manner. Al-Abbsi publishes his writings regularly on his blog and in some Yemeni newspapers as well as “The First/Al-Oulah” newspaper edited by his colleague Mohammed Ayish. Both human rights defenders agreed that they would attend all sessions of the court voluntarily.
The Press Court of First Instance held a session on 22 April, 2013 in Sana’a to consider the case in the presence of a group of human rights defenders and journalists who came to show their solidarity. The judge decided to postpone the hearing in order to allow the defense team to have access to the case file and prepare their defence.
On 29 April, 2013 the Court held another session where the defense team presented a written petition to dismiss the case on the basis that the complaint is vexatious and attached a detailed response to it supported by documents. The defense team also requested a copy of the constitution of the Reform Charity Association. The trial was postponed to 13 May 2013.
Mohamed Al-Abbsi is a blogger and journalist who focuses on exposing corruption at all levels of Yemen society. He has published over 2000 documents related to the cases of corruption in the country. Reform Charity Association brought the judicial case against the writer Al-Abbsi, and the publisher “The First/Al-Oulah” newspaper, represented by its Editor-in-Chief, Mohammed Ayish, seeking a big compensation of 100 Million Rials (about a half-million US$).
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses its concern at the cursing and insulting complaint lodged against Mohammed Al-Abbsi, Mohammed Ayish, and the newspaper “The First/Al-Oulah” in addition to their current trial. The GCHR considers that these actions are an attempt to harass the named people using the judicial system and also to undermine their peaceful and legitimate work to investigate, document and publish information about corruption cases in Yemen.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Yemen to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Mohammed Al-Abbsi, Mohammed Ayish, and the newspaper “The First/Al-Oulah”;
2. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Mohammed Al-Abbsi, and Mohammed Ayish;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and journalists in Yemen are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 5 (b) which states that: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;” Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”