Democracy and rights
Complete civil war has knocked out both decision-making with popular influence as well as the judiciary and other authorities. Both citizens and the media are subjected to violence and harassment, not only from the state and other states participating in the war, but also from armed groups, clan leaders, powerful families and businessmen.
Attempts have been made to secure political influence for different countries and different peoples through a national dialogue – for example, Shiites, which are a large minority. Hundreds of delegates participated, but the process failed (see Political system). The Huthi movement, based in the Shiite Zaydites in the north, chose to take control of themselves and full war broke out.
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The last parliamentary term expired in 2009. Since 2012, when Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi was approved by the electorate as temporary president, for two years, presidential elections have also not been held. Hadi leads a government, mostly from exile, but it is unclear how many people support that government.
At the national dialogue conference in 2014, almost one third of the delegates were women. It looked hopeful because only one woman had been elected to the last parliament. But no Yemeni (irrespective of ethnic, religious or gender) has civil rights under the prevailing conditions. Neither of the armed forces controls a large part of the country to hold elections that would make their exercise of power legitimate.
Contradictions between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims have grown throughout the war, and a Muslim group has already had a particularly difficult time asserting its rights: Yemeni people of African descent are being discriminated against. Despite the war, migrants from the Horn of Africa also continue to reach Yemen. They hope to reach the labor market in yellow states, but risk severe hardship (see Calendar).
Several of the fighting groups are recruiting child soldiers. The war also causes food shortages, even starvation. Both wars and weak public institutions make widespread abuse of power. Huthirebeller, for example, has been revealed to confiscate aid shipments from abroad intended for the needy. They have sold some of the goods, and when war interferes with food production and distribution of food, the prices of food become soaring.
Transparency International gave Yemen an unparalleled place of honor 177 in its overall review of corruption in the world in 2019, see list here. Only three countries were judged to be more corrupt.
Freedom of expression and media
After the reunification in 1990, Yemen, abbreviated as YEM by Abbreviationfinder, had a (by regional measure) lively and independent pressure, although the overall edition was small. During the 2000s, interventions against independent media have increased. Journalists whose reporting was deemed to threaten “national security”, “national unity” or Yemen’s relations with other states have been condemned to prison in support of a press law from 1990. The law also makes it illegal to criticize the president or throw away “the Yemeni, Arab or Islamic heritage”.
In 2014, government troops vandalized the premises in Sanaa for the TV channel al-Yaman al-yawm (“Yemen today”). In 2015, huhirebeller occupied the newspaper Akhbar al-yawm (“Today’s News”) in Sanaa. The legal protection that has existed for journalists has not been of much use when newspapers and TV channels have been drawn into the conflicts, while the power holders have changed. It has long been common for journalists to be harassed by the security forces – and it has not been made better by the situation that has been developed by important parts of the country since 2014 controlled by the Houthis. Now both the government side and the rebel movement are creating great difficulties for independent news media and other media activities. According to Reporters Without Borders, the hearing raises a number of journalists imprisoned.
To this are other militant groups. The Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda (see Modern History) claimed in January 2015 to have been behind a bloody attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris as punishment for the newspaper being deemed to have detested Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.
Reporters Without Borders placed Yemen in place 167 in its list of freedom of the press in the world in 2020, see list here. Only about a dozen countries with chaotic conditions or heavily controlled media, such as North Korea, Syria and Saudi Arabia, are further down the list.
The majority of the population receives their news via ether media, which previously gave the state influence over the information flow. The state information monopoly weakened when foreign satellite channels began broadcasting television in the Arab world. Since then, channels such as al-Jazira, based in Qatar, and al-Arabiyya, controlled by Saudi interests but based in the United Arab Emirates, have often been more important than Yemen’s own media. Even privately owned Yemeni satellite TV channels that emerged after the turn of the millennium have broadcast from abroad to avoid harassment. The first non-state TV channel was al-Saida (“The Happy”), which was launched in Cairo in 2007 with both political programs and entertainment. The political groups also benefit from the possibility of broadcasting from abroad. Via the Beirut-based al-Masira (“Marschen”
The Huthirebels, which now have control over, among other things, the capital and central authorities, block sites, social media and satellite channels that they do not want citizens to see.
Judicial system and legal security
As a result of the war, most national authorities have ceased to function, or split into two – one half loyal to the government, the other to the skin movement.
Laws are applied arbitrarily or not at all. According to the Constitution, the courts are to be independent, but they are subject to pressure from holders of power. Since 2011, and in some cases even before, armed militias control many areas. Hundreds of cases of arbitrary arrests have been documented. Even US special forces, active in the civil war on the side of the Yemeni government, have been accused by human rights organizations of holding secret prisons and torturing prisoners.
The judiciary was considered to be ineffective even before 2011 and strong clans protect their members from being arrested.
Especially in the countryside, many disputes outside the judiciary are settled, in accordance with customer traditions or Islamic law.
Homosexuality is prohibited and severely punished, for example by whipping. In Yemen, children could be married even before, and the lawlessness during the war has led to the problem growing. Anyone who commits honor crimes can avoid punishment, that assessment also supports the Criminal Code.
Courts controlled by the Huthi are sentencing the death penalty, but as far as you know, the executions have not been carried out.