Target: President of Yemen Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi
Goal: Pass anti-trafficking law
In an attempt to reach Saudi Arabia for work, or seeking refuge and asylum, thousands of African migrants and refugees are meeting an unmitigated Yemeni crime racket capitalizing on their unfortunate position.
Since 2006, in and around the town of Haradh, Yemeni slave traffickers have been holding impoverished migrants captive and torturing them in the hopes of extorting money from friends and family in Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia. Due to bribes, corruption, and a failure by the Yemeni government to hold responsible parties accountable, “torture camps” exist virtually out in the open with next to no opposition.
If it becomes clear that the victim’s family has no money, the victim is released with no food, water, or proper clothing to protect him as he attempts to navigate a formidable foreign landscape. With an estimated 30 torture camps in and around Haradh, trafficking profits continue to rise unabated. The corruption allowing such a massive operation to thrive involves senior government officials and spans many government sectors, including Yemeni police, military, and intelligence services. Security forces charged with stopping trafficking actually assist smugglers. The Yemeni Interior Ministry could not pinpoint a single case of legal or disciplinary action against officials in collaboration with traffickers.
After multiple raids on the torture camps between March and May of 2013, a lack of resources to care for the freed victims was the reason cited by the Yemeni Defense Ministry to discontinue the raids. According to Ali Yaslam, the Border Guard commander responsible for coordinating the raids, 50 to 55 camps were raided, 7,000 migrants were released, and all camp property owners and some of the traffickers were sent to the Yemeni Criminal Investigation Department.
Despite those impressive figures, only 14 to 20 traffickers were charged, according to a local Haradh official. Not a single successful prosecution has been verified. A draft anti-trafficking law pending before parliament along with a draft law on refugees and asylum seekers waiting to be finalized could change the fate of thousands in torture camps and prevent the unacceptable violation of human rights.
The government of Yemen has an obligation to free, protect, shelter, and feed hostages under international law. It must end the torture and inhumane, degrading treatment of anyone within its borders under the dictates of the Yemeni Constitution. Urge the Yemeni President to hold corrupt officials and traffickers accountable for collusion to free these hostages.
Dear President of Yemen Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, A lack of disciplinary action by the Yemeni government to charge officials with collusion in the trafficking of thousands of migrants in the town of Haradh and surrounding areas has led to the torture and extortion of too many people within your nation’s borders. Raids carried out between March and May of 2013 led to no successful prosecutions and were discontinued due to a lack of resources for the rescued victims of these camps.
Failure to act against such human rights violations makes a government guilty of neglect under international law and as culpable as the perpetrators themselves. I implore you to pass the draft anti-trafficking law pending before parliament and hold all responsible parties accountable for the torture and trafficking of thousands of innocent victims.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jialiang Gao via Wikimedia Commons