(New York, N.Y.) — Today, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) released the fifth and final installment in its report series on the Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim armed religious and political movement, the Houthis. The new report focuses on the systematic abuse of Yemeni women and journalists by the Houthis – a topic that has received limited attention, with fewer than 15 Houthi officials sanctioned despite repeated violations committed against the population under their rule. The report identifies several officials – including judges, prosecutors, and high-ranking members of the Houthi political apparatus – who it concludes should be considered for sanctioning under the Magnitsky Act due to ongoing human rights violations, and calls upon the U.S. government to encourage its allies and partners to refuse entry to the perpetrators and their associates.
To read the full report, The Houthis: Terrorizing Women and Journalists, please click here.
The Houthi rebels frequently detain, torture, and rape women through justifications of purification, or fabricated allegations related to immoral behavior or narcotics, often after sham trials. However, CEP analysis found that most of the women subjected to Houthi attacks are politically active against Houthi policies. For Yemeni women, winning a rape case against their perpetrator is incredibly challenging if not impossible. Without a confession by the perpetrator, the survivor must provide four male witnesses to the crime. If she cannot, the woman risks charges of adultery or fornication.
The new report also provides details on recent high-profile cases against Yemeni women abused at the hands of the Houthis – including the abductions of young aspiring actresses and fashion models Yusra al-Nashiri and Entisar al-Hammadi. The young women were offered the opportunity to be released if they promised to use drugs or sex to entrap prominent individuals opposed to the Houthis that the rebel group sought to blackmail. When they refused, they were forced to stand trial on fabricated charges.
The report also delves into the Houthi’s arrests, trials, and sentencings of journalists who present opposing or critical perspectives of the Houthis. The report focuses on the 2015 arrest, torture, and sham trials of nine Yemeni journalists, five of whom were sentenced to prison, while four were convicted of “espionage for foreign states and spreading fake news” and sentenced to death. During the court proceedings, the journalists were largely denied access to their defense attorney – who himself was later put on trial and charged with “cooperating with the countries of aggression.”
Additionally, the report examines how a group of YouTube content creators who were openly critical of the Houthi regime’s corruption and dysfunction were detained and put on trial in 2023. However, shortly before the trial concluded, Houthi media released a clip of the accused confessing to the charges, and they each received sentences ranging from one to three years before ultimately being released the following month.
Despite using civilian women as tools in political blackmail schemes, or torturing journalists who speak out against the regime, Houthi officials who have carried out repeated human rights abuses against the Yemeni people have largely avoided accountability.
To read The Houthis: Terrorizing Women and Journalists, please click here.
Read the fourth report in this series, Houthi Targeting Of Religious Minorities, by clicking here.
To read the third report in this series, How the Houthis Built Their Arsenal: Defense and Intelligence Procurement, please click here.
To read the second report in this series, The Houthis’ Use of Technology for Repression, please click here.
To read the first report in this series, How The Houthis Funded Terror Groups After Seizing Yemen’s Capital, please click here.