Yemen: Huthi-run court upholds death sentence against Baha’i prisoner of conscience

A Huthi-run court in Yemen has upheld the death sentence handed down to Hamid Haydara, a prisoner of conscience of Baha’i faith, Amnesty International learned today.

The Court of Appeals in Sana’a yesterday approved the sentence which had been handed down in January 2018, following a protracted and grossly unfair trial that lasted almost five years. Haydara, who was not allowed to attend yesterday’s court hearing, was tried on unfounded allegations of spying, which carries the death penalty.

“This decision, taken in Hamid Haydara’s absence, is only the latest development in what has been a flagrantly-flawed trial and indicates the lengths to which the Huthis are willing to go to consolidate their control,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

There is no question that Hamid Haydara is being sentenced to death solely for his conscientiously-held beliefs and peaceful activities
Lynn Maalouf

“There is no question that Hamid Haydara is being sentenced to death solely for his conscientiously-held beliefs and peaceful activities. We urge the Huthi authorities to quash his death sentence, and immediately and unconditionally release him.”

Last night, the Court of Appeals also upheld the decision to confiscate all of Haydara’s assets, the closure of all Baha’i institutions, and the confiscation of all their assets.

To appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court in two weeks’ time, Haydara must sign forms so that his lawyer can submit the appeal. However, the Huthi authorities are currently denying Haydara any visits, including access to his lawyers.

Background

Since Hamid Haydara’s initial arrest in December 2013, Amnesty International has raised its concerns with the de facto Huthi authorities regarding the basis for his ongoing detention, as well as the deeply-flawed legal proceedings in his case, including excessive pre-trial detention, undue delays in his trial, torture and other ill-treatment, and lack of access to counsel during his interrogations.

Amnesty International has documented the cases of 66 individuals, the vast majority men, whose proceedings are all ongoing – bar one – and were brought before the Sana’a-based Specialized Criminal Court between 2015 and 2020. Journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and members of religious minorities are among those subjected to unfair trial on spurious or trumped-up charges by this court. All of those individuals are being tried on charges of spying, which are mandatorily punishable by death under Yemeni law.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; the guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the offender; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.