US State Department: Yemen's government has failed to combat corruption, and Houthi is spying on citizens' private affairs

English - Thursday 30 March 2023 الساعة 09:22 pm
NewsYemen, special translation:

The annual report of the US State Department 2022 highlighted corruption and violations by the Yemeni government, the Houthi militia - the Iranian arm in Yemen - and the restrictions imposed on freedoms in various Yemeni regions.

The newly issued report - translated by NewsYemen - dealt with the harassment of human rights defenders, in addition to the strict Houthi censorship of Internet freedom, espionage, and the significant limitation of academic freedom due to the influence of this segment on cultural events, without overlooking the violations against children and their recruitment.  in summer camps before being thrown into battle.

The report emphasized that "the impunity of security officials" remained "a problem".  He explained that this was "partly because the Yemeni government exercised limited authority and failed to investigate and prosecute abuses and corruption."

Houthi control of government institutions in the north has also severely reduced the government's ability to conduct investigations According to the report.

"The Houthis continued to benefit from expropriation of state resources, taxes on business, and the diversion of humanitarian aid. The government did not undertake any significant anti-corruption activities, while the Houthis continued to abuse anti-corruption powers to stifle dissent and suppress political opponents," he added.

According to the State Department report, non-state actors, including the Houthis, armed militias, and terrorist groups (including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the ISIS branch in Yemen), have committed serious abuses with impunity.  January 2022 was the deadliest month for civilian casualties in three years.

The report finds that "impunity" remained "a significant problem among the security forces, including the lack of effective mechanisms to investigate and prosecute violations."  At the same time, "civilian control over the security services remained weak. There was no information that the government prosecuted any individuals for alleged human rights violations, or that the Houthis took any accountability measures."

The report indicated that "there have been reports of political prisoners and detainees by all parties to the conflict."  He explained: "After the Houthis seized state institutions, they arrested activists, journalists, demonstration leaders and other political figures representing various political groups and organizations opposed to the Houthis."  Noting that "the Houthis have not issued public 'accusations' against the detainees and have severely restricted or prevented access to information to local or international human rights organizations."

The State Department report stated, “According to human rights NGOs, the Houthis searched private homes and offices, monitored phone calls, read personal mail and e-mail and in any way snooped into personal matters without even claiming to have ‘notes’ or permission from.”  Courts "controlled by the Houthis".

The American report continues to present Houthi violations with regard to personal aspects, saying: Media reported on July 7 that the Houthis monitored citizens' behavior through the use of informants and a hotline to encourage citizens to report their opponents.  In addition, those who did not participate in Houthi-led activities and events were denied aid and social services, and in some cases were detained as Houthi opponents.

Child recruitment

 The report talked about the recruitment, killing and maiming of children, and how they are recruited in summer camps prepared by the Houthis, as a prelude to throwing them into the fighting fronts.

The report said: "During the beginning of the truce last April, the Houthis signed a plan with the United Nations to end the recruitment and use of children in war, as well as to stop the killing and maiming of children in the conflict. However, the Houthis continued to set up "summer camps" to recruit children and force them into battle. Despite their pledge  stop this recruitment."

On June 19, the Associated Press also reported that the Houthis are still recruiting children into their military ranks.

The report documented that the agency quoted "two Houthi officials" as saying: "The Houthis recruited several hundred children, including children as young as 10 years old, during the previous two months and deployed them on the front lines as part of the mobilization of forces during the truce that entered into force in  April".

Freedom of expression and the Internet

 The US State Department report touched on the restrictions imposed against freedoms in various Yemeni regions, and the harassment of human rights defenders.  In addition to the tight censorship of Internet freedom, and the significant reduction of academic freedom for the influence of this segment on cultural events.

All parties to the conflict severely restricted freedom of expression, the report says.  Whereas, "women human rights defenders, journalists, and activists faced specific oppression on the basis of gender."  Human rights defenders also faced harassment, threats and defamation campaigns from the government, the coalition and the Houthis.

He stresses that "the government has not been able to protect journalists from violence and harassment, and in some cases has been accused of failing to protect journalists in areas controlled by the government and its loyalists."

While pro-government militias, the Houthis and armed militias were responsible for a range of violations against the media.  Freedom House assessed in its 2022 Freedom in the World report that "journalists have been subjected to violent attacks and enforced disappearances perpetrated by all parties to the conflict."  According to the US State Department report.

Pointing out that "the Houthis have taken control of the activities of many of the former state ministries responsible for press and communications."

Censorship also affected Internet freedom, and there were notable cases of Houthi interference in cyberspace.  The Houthi-controlled Public Communications Corporation and ISPs "blocked users' access to websites and Internet domains that the Houthis deemed dangerous to their political agenda."

Academic freedom and cultural events

 Regarding academic freedom and the freedom of student movements in universities, he explained that "media reports and non-governmental organizations indicated that the Houthis greatly limit academic freedom and assert their influence on cultural events."

"In some universities, the Houthis have taken control of operations and interfered with teaching and other academic activities, and faculty and students have been arrested and dismissed for criticizing their authority. The Houthis have politicized educational curricula to enhance their influence and crush their opponents," he added.

At the same time, the report stated, "On January 20, the Houthis reportedly suppressed a student demonstration on campus at Sana'a University by medical students calling for postponing final exams. Houthi forces beat and arrested an unknown number of student demonstrators."

He added, "Two additional violent incidents were also reported at Dhamar University during the summer. Houthi gunmen forcibly stormed the Faculty of Arts on June 27, attacking a number of university faculty members and damaging university property."

These student violations were not the only ones documented against the Houthis, as the US State Department report indicates that "on August 13, Houthi forces entered the Faculties of Arts and Education at Dhamar University and assaulted the university's employees."

He confirmed that these forces "took control, under the direction of a Houthi official in the governorate, the two colleges' buildings, and attacked and arrested two university security personnel who tried to prevent her from entering the campus."

He stressed that there were reports "that the Houthis harassed and detained activists and closed many non-governmental organizations, under the pretext of treason or collusion with foreign powers."  And that "the entities controlled by the Houthis have established the Executive Office to Monitor International Organizations Operations" to monitor the activity of non-governmental organizations.  In addition to "relocating several NGOs based in Sana'a to Aden or other cities in government-controlled areas or abroad."