Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Yemen: Houthis Avoid Revealing Fate of 232 Prisoners

Yemen: Houthis Avoid Revealing Fate of 232 Prisoners

Sunday, 13 January, 2019 - 11:45
Houthi militants in Sanaa, Yemen. (Reuters file photo)

The Yemeni government delegation, taking part in the war-torn country’s committee for the release of prisoners and detainees, is preparing to head to Jordan, where a vital meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Stockholm agreement, meant to advance peace efforts in Yemen, was signed in December, but is already being undermined by the intransigence of the Iran-backed Houthi militias. Included in the deal is a prisoner swap between the legitimate government and militias.

The Houthis have omitted details when they provided information about thousands of detainees included on a Yemeni government list of prisoners, which constitutes a violation of the agreement, officials told Asharq Al-Awsat

Apparently, the Houthis avoided disclosing to concerned authorities the conditions of 232 detainees held by the militias and mentioned in a prisoner swap deal.

The prisoner swap should first take place by exchanging lists of the detainees wanted by each side, then presenting observations and testimonies on those mentioned, followed by a response by either side and finally logistical arrangements for the release of the detainees.

The head of the Yemeni government delegation Hadi Haj said that the swap is “suspended at the third stage,” confirming that the Houthis refrained from providing the Yemeni government with observations.

Hamza al-Kamali, the Yemeni undersecretary of the Yemeni Ministry of Youth and Sports, believes that the prisoner file “if it were dealt with transparently and clearly, will see progress.”

Attempting to conceal the fate of some detainees, especially prominent figures like Mohammed Qahtan (an Islah Party member who was arrested by a dozen Houthi gunmen in 2015), suggests that the group could be trying to avoid revealing deaths by torture in militia-run prisons, al-Kamali explained.

Undersecretary of the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights Majid Fidayil said that the UN is managing to pressure officials, but little to no pressure is being placed on the militias which need to be reined in and fully engaged in order to make the swap successful.

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