Stop Growth of Debtors Prisons

yemen prison

Target: President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi

Goal: Stop imprisoning people for their inability to pay fines or personal debts

The practice of imprisoning debtors in Yemen must come to an end. The government has imprisoned well over 200 people in the Sanaa Central Prison alone due to their inability to pay a fine. Prisoners include those who cannot pay private debts, those who owe ‘blood money’ to a family for committing a crime against them, and others who remain imprisoned because they cannot pay fines to the state. Many of these people have been incarcerated for years without the hope of release. The government in Yemen should release all individuals who are being held in prison solely due to their inability to pay debts or fines.

Yemen’s code of law allows judicial officials to imprison people who do not follow court orders to pay their debts. Courts have the ability to order a ‘blood money’ debt and may throw people in jail indefinitely if they fail in their requirement. International human rights law prohibits such actions, in particular the imprisonment of people for an inability to pay fines. Indefinite prison sentences amount to cruel and inhuman punishment under international human rights law as well.

By imprisoning those unable to pay their fines, the courts are in fact prohibiting these individuals from repaying their debts. The Yemeni government must do more to protect the human rights of prisoners who are stuck in debtor’s prison. It is only creating more problems in prison overcrowding and can negatively impact the economy as well. Sign this petition to ask the government in Yemen to release those jailed in debtor’s prisons.


Dear President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi,

The practice of imprisoning people for not paying debts or fines is in violation of international human rights law. Your government must do more to protect debtors from cruel and inhuman punishments such as indefinite prison sentences. Often, these sentences prevent debtors from repaying their debts and returning to normal lives outside of prison.

Your country’s economy and social system will improve upon changing your code of law. By doing so, your government will show the international community that there is a strong interest to protect the human rights of your civilians. I ask that you immediately release all people who are currently in your jails due to an inability to repay their debts or fines.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Erik Wannee via Wikimedia Commons

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