Yemen: two French-Tunisians citizens held incommunicado since May 2014

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Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the Special Rapporteur against Torture concerning two French-Tunisians, Aissaoui Taha and Ben Ayed Mourad, arrested and secretly detained in Yemen since May 2014.

The two men moved to Yemen a decade ago and built their families there, while studying in Hadhramaut Directorate, in the South of Yemen. On 7 and 8 May respectively, they were arrested without any warrant by agents of the political security organisation (Al Amn Assiyassi) and brought to one of its branches. In the following days, media reported that the authorities believed they were linked to terrorist activities, even if the two victims' well-known pacifism seems to dismiss such allegations.

Their families remain to date unaware of Mourad Ben Ayed and Taha Aissaoui' fates and the authorities still refuse to provide them with any information on their place of detention, in disregard of their most fundamental rights. Their lawyer was also denied visits, under the pretext that no criminal procedure had been engaged against them so far, in violation of international fair trial norms.

These elements are of concern as the two aforementioned individuals are probably subjected to torture while being secretly detained, the Yemeni political security being notorious for such practices in cases related to terrorism. The waves of arrests against citizens, sometimes arbitrarily, that is being carried out by the authorities in their fight against terrorism, is all the more preoccupying.

Alkarama consequently called upon the Special Rapporteur against Torture to intervene with the Yemeni authorities requesting that the victims be immediately released or at least, placed under the protection of the law and that their families and lawyer be authorised to visit them as soon as possible. If acts of torture against Mourad Ben Ayed and Taha Aissaoui were to be confirmed, the authorities will have to open a thorough and impartial investigation and prosecute the perpetrators.

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