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Human rights cases

Ahmed Saif Hashed, Yemen

Yemeni independent MP and newspaper proprietor Ahmed Saif Hashed has been viciously attacked, threatened and had his right to freedom of expression violated since being elected to parliament in 2003.

Yemeni human rights campaigner and newspaper owner Ahmed Saif Hashed has suffered a sustained campaign of attacks since being elected to parliament.

He has been the victim of a brutal assault by soldiers, arbitrary arrest and death threats. He believes he has been targeted because of his human rights work, particularly his investigations into the state of prison conditions in Yemen.

Elected as an independent MP in 2003, he has periodically been refused the right to speak in parliament, while his newspaper and website have been banned or blocked at various times.

IPU remains deeply alarmed by the death threats against him, and the allegations of torture, ill treatment and other acts of violence.    

He suffered serious head injuries on 12 February 2013 after being attacked by anti-riot soldiers as he took part in a peaceful demonstration outside the Council of Ministers office in the Yemeni capital Sana'a.

The attack came less than a week after Amnesty International had issued a public warning against the use of unlawful force against protesters in Yemen.

Ahmed Saif Hashed believes the assault was an assassination attempt. His driver was killed in a separate attack, and Hashed says another attempt was made to kidnap him, which was thwarted only when passers-by intervened.

According to sources, Ahmed Saif Hashed and his journalists started receiving death threats after an MP claimed during a parliamentary sitting that the newspaper was an enemy of Islam "that required killing”.

MPs from the ruling party also tried to strip Hashed of his parliamentary immunity, alleging that comments he made in a local newspaper were unpatriotic. Action by IPU, the media and other organizations helped to end efforts to lift his immunity in March 2008.

IPU urges Yemeni authorities to provide appropriate security measures to Hashed and continues to call for all attacks and threats against him to be properly investigated.

It is asking Yemen to honour its pledge to the United Nations Human Rights Council that Hashed, as an MP and newspaper owner, has a right to freedom expression and is entitled “to report and criticize government policy freely and without fear of repression, intimidation, imprisonment or threat”.