Yemeni Journalists Harassed and Jailed in 2023, Say Press Freedom Organizations

Published: 16 January 2024

Yemen Sana Bomb

Yemen is facing what is widely acknowledged as the most significant humanitarian crisis globally, with 21.6 million people requiring aid. (Photo: Fahd Sadi, Wikimedia, License)

By Erika Di Benedetto

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) reported 82 violations against journalists, media workers, and media outlets in 2023, with just over half  attributed to the Yemeni government and its agencies.

The report, analyzing press freedom in Yemen from January to December 2023, outlines 17 instances of freedom restrictions, 12 trials and summonses of journalists, and 12 cases of threats and incitement. Additionally, it documents 10 cases of obstructing journalists from their work and shutting down media outlets, along with 10 instances of harsh treatment of those in detention.

The report also brought to light six cases in which journalists were fired, and six instances of reported raids and assaults.

Furthermore, it cited five occurrences in which journalists' belongings were seized and media outlets looted; two instances of court orders being ignored; and two cases of media websites being hacked.

The Yemen conflict is rooted in the longstanding conflict between Sunni and Shia Islam. The civil war started in 2015 due to conflicts between the Sunni Yemeni government forces and the Houthis, a Shia militia group with ties to Iran.

The situation in Yemen is considered "the world’s largest humanitarian crisis," with 21.6 million people in need of aid.

According to the report, the Yemeni government and its agencies were responsible for 52 percent  of the violations against journalists. The Houthi group was identified as the perpetrator in 38 percent  of the cases. Unknown individuals were responsible for 6 percent  of the incidents, while media institutions accounted for the remaining 4 percent.

The YJS, in collaboration with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), called on Yemeni authorities to release detained journalists, media professionals, and press freedom advocates, while also urging the United Nations and press freedom organizations for support.

“We strongly condemn the adverse working conditions faced by journalists and media professionals in Yemen, jeopardizing their safety and lives as they strive to inform the public. We call once again for all journalists to be released and for press freedom to be guaranteed at all costs”, said Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary.

Currently, five journalists are detained in Yemen. Two of them, Waheed Al-Sufi and Nabil Al-Sadawi, are held by the Houthis. Two other journalists, Ahmed Maher and Naseh Shaker, are held by the Southern Transitional Council (STC) — a political entity advocating for independence for  the southern region of Yemen — with Maher detained since August 2022 and Shaker since November 2023. Additionally, journalist Muhammad Qaid Al-Maqri has been held by Al-Qaeda in the Hadramout region since October 2015.