GENEVA / YEMEN DEATH PENALTY

12-Jul-2019 00:01:35
The UN human rights office, OHCHR, said today that it is deeply alarmed at death penalty sentences handed down to 30 men in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in an appeal to the de facto Houthi authorities to dismiss the likely "politically motivated" charges. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / YEMEN DEATH PENALTY
TRT: 1:35
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 12 JULY 2019 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Exterior shot, Palais des Nations
2. Wide shot, podium and journalists
3. Close up, journalist writing
4. Med shot, journalist typing
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We are deeply alarmed by the imposition of the death penalty on 30 people, by the specialized first instance criminal court of the de facto authorities in Sana’a. The 30 men, most of whom are academics, students and politicians affiliated with the Islah party that has been critical of the Houthis were sentenced to death on Tuesday.”
6. Med shot, journalists typing
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“They were arrested at various points, as you said in 2016, charged in 2017 and since then there have been several hearings. I understand, there may have been up to 39 hearings, but at no point were they given a proper chance to present a defence.”
8. Close up, journalists typing
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The arrests also took place without warrants, for the most part, and they were held without being brought to a court, for several months or up to a year in many cases.”
10. Med shot, journalists typing
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We understand that the sentence will be appealed, but this is why we felt that it was important to come out now and speak about the high likelihood that many of these charges are politically motivated. That there are very credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment.”
12. Various shots, press briefing room
STORYLINE
The UN human rights office, OHCHR, said today that it is deeply alarmed at death penalty sentences handed down to 30 men in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in an appeal to the de facto Houthi authorities to dismiss the likely "politically motivated" charges.

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told journalists in Geneva, “we are deeply alarmed by the imposition of the death penalty on 30 people, by the specialized first instance criminal court of the de facto authorities in Sana’a,” adding that “the 30 men, most of whom are academics, students and politicians affiliated with the Islah party that has been critical of the Houthis, were sentenced to death on Tuesday.”

Shamdasani, who noted the UN’s longstanding objection to the death penalty, explained that the men had been detained for years and reportedly prosecuted without respect for due process.

She said, “The arrests also took place without warrants, for the most part, and they were held without being brought to a court, for several months or up to a year in many cases,” adding that “they were arrested at various points… in 2016, charged in 2017 and since then there have been several hearings. I understand, there may have been up to 39 hearings, but at no point were they given a proper chance to present a defence.”

Shamdasani also said, “we understand that the sentence will be appealed, but this is why we felt that it was important to come out now and speak about the high likelihood that many of these charges are politically motivated. That there are very credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment.”

Sana’a, in the west of the Arabian Peninsula State, has been under the control of the Houthis since late 2014, after they drove out forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

From March 2015 until end of June 2019, OHCHR has documented 7,659 civilians killed and 12,305 injured in the ongoing conflict.

Since fighting escalated more than four years ago, conflict between the warring parties and a blockade being imposed on the import of food, fuel, and medicine through key Red Sea ports, such as Hudaydah, have created a humanitarian disaster for the people of Yemen.

In June, the World Food Programme (WFP) began a partial suspension of aid to Sana’a and other Houthi-held areas of Yemen, after efforts failed to prevent aid being diverted from those who needed it most.

According to WFP, three-quarters of the people in Yemen who do not have reliable access to food - some nine million - are in areas controlled by Houthis.

After so many court hearings involving the defendants, Tuesday’s death penalty announcement came as a surprise, the OHCHR official said, noting that an appeal against the sentence was likely.

Shamdasani said, “We understand that the sentence will be appealed, but this is why we felt that it was important to come out now and speak about the high likelihood that many of these charges are politically motivated,” adding that “that there are very credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment.”
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