Yemen Court must not punish faith with death – UN experts


UN human rights experts have urged the de facto authorities in Sana’a to quash immediately the death sentence against Hamid Kamali bin Haydara, a follower of the Bahá’í faith.


"We cannot accept the injustice of having anyone punished by death on the grounds of his religion or belief and for belonging to a religious minority," the experts said.


"Not only would such a sentence amount to a serious violation of an internationally protected human right, but the Court would also be sending a wrong signal to the whole nation and the world if it upheld the decision of a death sentence against Haydara. 


"The right to life and the right to freedom of religion or belief are non-derogable rights and must be respected at all times," the experts said.


The Specialized Criminal Court handed down a death sentence on Haydara on 2 January 2018, for "compromising the independence of the Republic of Yemen",  based on unfounded allegations of his collaboration with Israel and members of the global Jewish community, as well as for spreading the Bahá’í faith in the country. Haydara’s appeal against the decision was last heard on 2 April 2019 in Sana’a.


"The charge of ‘compromising the independence of the Republic of Yemen’ does not meet the threshold of 'most serious crimes' warranting the death penalty under international law," the experts said.


"We deplore the blatant denial of the right of individuals to choose, have or adopt a religion or belief of their choice, and are deeply disturbed by the Prosecutor’s use of his personal religious commitments as a basis to reject the validity of the case made by the appellant.


"Not only did the Prosecutor demonise and deride the Bahá’í faith in his memo, but openly threatened anyone working in Haydara’s defence to be considered as a traitor to the nation and religion.


"The de facto authorities should release Haydara promptly following the annulment of his death sentence, and desist from harassing or intimidating defence lawyers."


The experts urged the Yemeni Government and the de facto authorities to respond to their concerns and end the persecution of the Bahá’í community in Yemen.


Originally published on OHCHR

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