In an exhaustive report released June 30, the independent monitor Mwatana for Human Rights documents a chilling aspect of Yemen’s more than five-year war that has gone overlooked, precisely because of its secretive nature: “enforced disappearances,” torture, and deaths at illegal detention centers across the country. The report documents abuses by all parties to Yemen’s war, some of which it says may constitute war crimes. The Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, forces backed by the United Arab Emirates, and the Ansar Allah (Houthi) rebel group are all accused of running detention centers—some on military bases or intelligence compounds, some in cellars below private homes or requisitioned public buildings.
While Mwatana’s report covers incidents between May 2016 and April 2020, worrisome detention practices remain an issue in Yemen, especially as COVID-19 spreads throughout the country. Last week week, Human Rights Watch highlighted the risks to detainees at a “grossly overcrowded” Aden facility run by the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council, where family members of men held without charge said one guard is already believed to have died of the virus, and people inside do not have access to basic healthcare or hygiene products.
From The New Humanitarian, July 3.