Yemen: Rights Radar: We monitored 13,574 abuses against travelers that occurred at 1,352 security checkpoints in 20 governorates, resulting in 721 deaths, 1,231 injuries and 3,658 cases of abduction, enforced disappearance and torture.
Rights Radar for Human Rights, based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, has called on the UN envoy to Yemen, Mr. Hans Grundberg to put more pressure on the parties to the war in Yemen by stopping any abuses committed against travelers passing through the military checkpoints spread in the outlets of governorates that witness conflict or military confrontations.
According to Rights Radar monitoring team, the total number of abuses committed by the parties to the conflict against travelers, drivers of vehicles and passers-by reached 13,574 cases occurred at 1,352 security checkpoints in 20 Yemeni governorates during the reporting period (February 2014 - December 2021).
These abuses included killing, injury, physical assault, abduction, enforced disappearance and torture, in addition to looting, imposing royalties, damaging property, restricting movement, as well as obstructing and looting humanitarian aid.
The monitored figures indicated that 721 killings, 1,231 injuries and physical assaults, 3,658 abductions, enforced disappearance and torture were committed, in addition to 1,401 cases of looting, imposing levies and royalties and causing damage to private property, 6,253 cases of restricting movement, and 310 cases of obstruction and looting of humanitarian aid.
According to Rights Radar monitoring team, Al-Bayda Governorate came first from among the Yemeni governorates suffering from the security checkpoints built by the parties to the conflict. There were 2,521 abuses, including 94 killings, 119 injuries and physical assaults, 915 abductions, enforced disappearance and torture, 180 cases of looting, illegal collection of taxes, causing damage to vehicles, 1,209 cases of restricting movement and 4 cases of obstructing access to the humanitarian aid.
Taiz Governorate came second with 1,580 abusess, including 117 killings, 186 injuries and physical assaults, 377 abductions, disappearances and tortures, 154 cases of vehicle damage, looting, confiscation of belongings and imposing royalties, 715 cases of restriction of freedom of movement and 31 cases of obstruction and looting of humanitarian aid. It was followed by Sana’a Governorate with 1,313 abuses, including 16 killings, 40 injuries, 446 abductions, enforced disappearance and torture, 190 cases of looting, illegal collection of loyalties and damages and four cases of looting and obstruction of humanitarian aid.
Ibb Governorate came fourth with 1,288 abuses, including 102 killings, 97 injuries and physical assaults, 283 abductions, enforced disappearances and tortures of civilians while passing through newly established checkpoints and barriers, as well as 603 cases of movement restriction and 58 cases of looting and confiscation of humanitarian aid.
It was followed by the temporary capital, Aden, with 1,144 abuses, including 77 killings, 168 injuries, 308 abductions, disappearances and tortures, 122 cases of looting, imposing royalties and destroying vehicles, 465 cases of movement restriction and four cases of looting and confiscation of humanitarian aid.
Dhamar Governorate came sixth with 867 abuses, including 20 killings, 42 injuries and physical assaults, 296 abductions, disappearances and tortures, 86 cases of looting, imposing royalties and damage to means of transportation, 413 cases of restricting freedom of movement and 10 cases of obstruction and looting of humanitarian aid.
Al-Hodeidah Governorate came seventh with 718 abuses, including 19 killings, 86 injuries, 128 abductions, disappearances and tortures, 297 restrictions on freedom of movement, 121 cases of looting, illegal collection of royalties and destruction of vehicles and 67 cases of obstruction and confiscation of humanitarian aid.
Lahj Governorate came eighth with 585 abuses, including 53 cases of killing, 76 cases of injury, 154 cases of abduction, disappearance and torture, 52 cases of looting, imposing royalties and destruction of various means of transportation, 246 cases of restriction of freedom of movement and four cases of confiscation and obstruction of humanitarian aid. It was followed by Amanat Al-Asimah with 494 abuses, including 23 cases of killing, 24 cases of injury, 91 cases of abduction, disappearance and torture, 106 cases of looting, collection of royalties and causing damage to means of transportation, 199 cases of restriction on freedom of movement and 54 cases of looting and obstruction of humanitarian aid.
Al-Dhalea Governorate came tenth with 412 abuses. Its checkpoints and barriers committed 412 abuses against travelers, passers-by and vehicle drivers, including 37 killings, 55 injuries, 68 abductions, 35 lootings, collection of royalties and damages to means of transportation, 215 cases of restriction of freedom of movement, in addition to two cases of looting and obstruction of humanitarian aid.
As for the parties responsible for violating the right of passing and movement, the statistics indicate that Houthi militia came in the first place with 553 killings of travelers, including 59 children, 26 women and 42 elderly people, 904 injuries, including 119 children, 67 women and 40 elderly people, while they were passing through checkpoints and barriers established by Houthi militia and its former ally, Ali Saleh, in 19 Yemeni governorates, including the southern governorates and parts of the northern governorates from which they had previously withdrawn.
The number of checkpoints and collection points established by Houthi militia and its ally, former President Saleh, reached 1,141 checkpoints and barriers, in addition to 766 checkpoints that Rights Radar team could not reach. They were located along the asphalt lines linking the capital, Sana’a, and the temporary capital, Aden, in the south, the governorates of Al-Hodeidah and Raymah in the southwest and the governorates of Amran, Al-Jawf, and Saada in the north.
The number of killings in the checkpoints of Houthi militia and its ally, Saleh, reached 385 cases, including 33 children, 16 women and 25 elderly people, in addition to 479 injuries, including 59 children, 35 women and 21 elderly people.
As for the victims of abduction, detention and enforced disappearance, Rights Radar team documented 2,901 cases of abduction and detention of travelers, drivers and passers-by in checkpoints and barriers of Houthi militia in all the governorates covered by the report except for Hadhramaut Governorate.
The cases of abducted and detained people included 135 children, 86 women and 108 elderly people, most of them were abducted from the checkpoints spread on Dhamar Al-Bayda Road leading to Ma’rib.
Houthi militants in the checkpoints and barriers caused the total destruction of 130 means of transportation, partial destruction of 218 others, looting of 482 means of transportation. They also confiscated 25 loads of goods and committed 65 cases of looting of money and 203 cases of looting of private property.
The team also verified that Houthi militia prevented 4,231 travelers from traveling and detained hundreds of families when they were on their way to visit their relatives in government-controlled areas.
Rights Radar team proved with conclusive evidence that Houthi checkpoints and barriers were involved in detaining 289 relief and humanitarian aid convoys in 16 Yemeni governorates, including Al-Hodeidah, Ibb, the capital Sana’a and Al-Mahwit.
The documented figures and statistics indicate that Houthi militia, through its checkpoints and barriers, looted and confiscated 260 relief convoys, including 160 shipments loaded with foodstuffs and 38 other shipments containing medical aid, solutions and vaccines for kidney and cancer patients and medicines for combating epidemics in a number of Yemeni governorates, including cholera, dengue fever and COVID-19, in addition to 24 shipments of shelter materials for the displaced people and 38 oil shipments.
Houthi checkpoints spread in the main entrances and outlets to government-controlled areas caused the destruction of the contents of 15 relief convoys due to stopping them for long periods in unsuitable climatic conditions or being targeted with firearms, including four medical shipments and 11 food shipments.
According to the monitored statistics, the illegal military formations in the liberated areas, which were not affiliated with the Ministries of Defense and Interior, came in the second place regarding the responsibility for violating the right of passing and movement.
These formations included Support Brigades affiliated with the Security Belt Forces of the so-called “Transitional Council” in the governorates of Aden, Abyan, Al-Dhalea and Lahj, in addition to the Elite Forces in the governorates of Hadhramaut and Shabwa, as well as the UAE-backed Forces on the western coast, south of Al-Hodeidah and west of Taiz, including the Giants Brigades, the so-called Guardians of the Republic Brigades, the National Resistance and Abu al-Abbas Brigades.
Rights Radar team proved that these formations committed 1,851 abuses against travelers, drivers of vehicles and passers-by through 102 checkpoints and barriers established by the above-mentioned formations along the main roads and lines leading to their areas of control, including the checkpoints at the entrances to the temporary capital, Aden, in addition to some checkpoints spread on the asphalt line linking the governorates of Lahij and Taiz, as well as the main line linking North Yemen and South Yemen through Al-Dhalea Governorate.
Most of these abuses were committed in the governorates of Lahij and Aden with 78 cases, including killings of four children, six women and two elderly people, 121 injuries, including 17 women, four children and three elderly people.
According to the monitored abuses, the illegal formations committed abductions and detentions against 666 civilians, including 25 cases of torture, 19 elderly people, 20 children and five women.
Rights Radar team also documented 72 cases of looting committed against travelers, drivers of vehicles and some passers-by, including 29 cases of looting of money, 12 cases of looting of cargoes and goods, 31 looting and confiscation of personal belongings, in addition to imposing illegal levies and royalties.
The team confirmed that these formations were responsible for 866 cases of restricting freedom of movement in government-controlled areas by establishing 102 security checkpoints and barriers and preventing 764 travelers from entering the southern governorates and some northern areas under their control.
The extremist organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or ISIS came in the third place with 458 abuses committed at their checkpoints and barriers located along the lines and roads under their control or through attacks against checkpoints and barriers belonging to other parties.
These extremist organizations committed 58 killings of travelers and vehicle drivers, including 15 children, two women and three elderly people, as well as 181 injuries, including 27 children, four women and four elderly people. Rights Radar team also recorded four cases of abduction committed against travelers while passing through checkpoints and barriers belonging to these organizations.
Rights radar team monitored 183 cases of restriction on freedom of movement and movement at 51 checkpoints and barriers of extremist organizations, including 132 cases of travel prevention in areas under their control in the governorates of Hadhramaut, Shabwa, Marib, Abyan and Al-Bayda.
The Legitimate Government came in fourth place in the list of violators of the right of travelers and drivers of vehicles while passing through checkpoints and barriers. Their security and military forces were responsible for 369 abuses in 11 Yemeni governorates, including Taiz, Al-Dhalea, Hadhramaut, Aden, Shabwa and Marib.
The number of killings reached 30 people, including two children and two elderly people, and 20 injuries, including five children and three women. There were 87 abductions of travelers from government forces checkpoints and barriers, including three children, four women and three elderly people. Nine people were subjected to enforced disappearance for varying periods and four people were subjected to psychological and physical torture.
Rights Radar team also recorded 191 cases of restriction of freedom of movement committed by the government forces against travelers, owners and drivers of vehicles. They established 58 checkpoints that prevented 133 travelers from reaching their areas of control, including 10 children, seven women and four elderly people, in addition to obstructing the arrival of seven relief convoys loaded with two shipments of medical aid and five shipments of food aid. They confiscated five of these convoys and damaged two others.
It should be noted that the report entitled “Death Checkpoints” was one of the specialized qualitative reports and its preparation team adopted the same methodology used in the previous similar reports which is based on a combination of sequential narration of events and facts and the graphic analysis of figures and statistics. This is based on the data, information and daily observations collected by a field research team in 20 Yemeni governorates.
In the first phase, through its field monitoring teams, complaint department, hot line and private archive, Rights Radar succeeded in collecting data and information regarding about 15,000 abuses committed against civilian victims at security checkpoints belonging to all parties to the conflict in Yemen.
In the second phase, its research and investigation team carried out a series of field visits that included most of the targeted governorates, during which they were able to identify and verify about 1,200 incidents.
In the third phase, the analysis and classification team sorted 254 recorded interviews conducted by the research and investigation team with the victims of abuses, 195 interviews with the families and relatives of the victims, 440 interviews with witnesses to the incidents, 32 similar recorded interviews with experts and specialists relevant fields, in addition to 889 supporting documents that included (death certificates, criminal reports, medical reports, personal identification, inheritance provisions, reports submitted to the concerned authorities), as well as 196 observations and witnesses made by the team members concerning the examination of locations of incidents or the effects, damages and losses.
Rights Radar team has concluded to a number of recommendations for the parties to the conflict, calling on them to abide by the international conventions, laws, treaties and covenants regulating war, spare civilians the scourge of conflict, find safe corridors allow full access to humanitarian aid and not to use siege and starvation as a weapon in armed conflict.
They also call on the parties to the conflict to neutralize the road network, main and subsidiary lines, air, land and sea ports, and not to interrupt or impede movement through them as they are considered public facilities and means that serve the civilian population of all categories and segments and meet their natural needs.
They call on them to quickly demolish the illegal checkpoints and barriers, including collection points and customs outlets on all roads, main and secondary streets, and entrances to capitals, cities and residential neighborhoods, without restriction or condition.
They also call on reconsidering the performance of legal checkpoints and barriers to ensure their compliance with their basic and legal tasks and functions for regulating traffic, providing security and safety for travelers, protecting their property, combating smuggling and reducing crime.
They also call on referring all commanders and soldiers of legal and illegal security and military checkpoints and barriers, who are proven to be involved in committing abuses against travelers, to the judiciary and providing fair compensation for all damages and losses incurred by the victims and their families.