Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is extremely concerned that our Yemeni partners, Mwatana for Human Rights, have reported that five members of staff including Chairperson Radhya Al-Mutawakel and Vice Chairperson Abdul-Rashid Al-Faqih, were prevented from travelling through Sana’a International Airport on 30th September 2023. No legal justification was provided. The incident reflects the wider pattern of violations committed by the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group, infringing upon the freedom of movement throughout Yemen. Mwatana for Human Rights staff have faced a long series of incidents including human rights violations, harassment, detention and threats dating back to at least 2015.
Mwatana for Human Rights is a Yemeni human rights organisation based in Sana’a. Their work includes documenting the violations committed by the parties to the conflict in Yemen, including by the Saudi-led Coalition to which the UK has sold over £25 billion worth of arms, and by the Houthi de facto authorities and other armed groups; and working to ensure accountability for these violations. Mwatana also provides legal support and advice to victims of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance. In 2021 Mwatana for Human Rights and the CAAT were jointly nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
CAAT calls for the full reopening of Sana’a International Airport and the other Yemeni airports, and for the lifting of all arbitrary restrictions imposed on the freedom of movement of Yemeni people. We call on the international community, including the UK, to support a meaningful and inclusive peace process and urge all parties to the conflict in Yemen, including Ansar Allah and the Saudi-led Coalition, to guarantee freedom of movement which is crucial in achieving a just peace.
Radhya Al-Mutawakel, the Chairperson of the organisation, said, “Freedom of movement is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen according to the Yemen constitution, laws, and regulations, as well as international conventions. Deprivation of this right is a crime punishable by law.” She added, “We will not abandon our right to freedom of movement, nor will we give up on holding those responsible for the crime of denying this right accountable under any circumstances.”
Katie Fallon, Advocacy Manager at CAAT said: “Freedom of movement is a critical component of achieving a just peace for Yemen, one in which there is accountability for human rights violations committed by all parties to the conflict. To prevent five staff members from Mwatana from travelling through Sana’a airport is an attack on their work, their ability to advocate for Yemen internationally, and a peaceful future for Yemen. This incident reflects the wider pattern of restricting the work of civil society and humanitarian actors, human rights defenders, journalists, and Yemeni women in particular, restrictions which can only obstruct accountability and justice.”