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The New Arab Staff

NGO demands UAE close its 'secret Yemen prisons'

The rights group called on the closure of the Yemen prisons [Getty-file photo]

Date of publication: 29 December, 2020

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SAM for Rights and Liberties has accused the UAE of detaining 'thousands of Yemenis'.
A Geneva-based NGO has accused the UAE of running secret prisons in Yemen and called on Abu Dhabi to shutter the facilities immediately.

SAM for Rights and Liberties has accused the UAE of detaining "thousands of Yemenis, including political opponents, opinion-makers, and even civilians, without any charge or presentation to judicial authorities", news agency Anadolu reported.

The group said that facilities were supervised with the help of Saudi Arabia, and that detainees are "tortured".  

Yemen has been at war since the Houthis rebels took over the capital Sanaa in 2014, forcing the government to flee south. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states intervened in 2015, bombing northern areas occupied by the Houthis with reports of mass civilian casualties.

In the south, the UAE has also been accused of sponsoring southern separatist militias, which clashed with Yemeni government forces. 

All sides in Yemen's war have been accused of human rights groups and detaining political opponents.

Rights group Mwatana accused Yemen's Houthi rebels and UAE forces of being responsible for thousands of human rights violations carried out in unofficial detention centres.

Common practices in these 11 facilities include beatings, electrocutions, and depriving prisoners of food and water.

"In these unofficial centres, the use of which has greatly expanded during Yemen's war, monitors and families very rarely have access to detainees," said the advocacy director of Mwatana, Osamah Alfakih.

The war in Yemen has killed more than 100,000 people and created the world's worst humanitarian disaster, with more than 3 million people internally-displaced and two-thirds of the population reliant on food assistance for survival.

The situation in Yemen is expected to get worse as donor countries recently cut back on aid amid the coronavirus pandemic and also due to concerns that the supplies might not be reaching its intended recipients in territories controlled by the Houthis. 

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