The U.S. on Sunday condemned the executions of nine Yemenis by Houthi rebels, calling the incident an “outrageous action” and “barbarism.”
“Houthi authorities in Sana’a on September 18 brutally executed 9 individuals after a sham trial following years of torture and abuse. One of those was a minor,” Cathy Westley, chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy to Yemen, said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“This outrageous action is another example of the Houthi indifference to basic human rights and follows only days after their attack on the commercial port of Mokha, an essential transit point for humanitarian supplies and commercial food imports. This barbarism must end,” she added.
Message from CDA Cathy Westley on the executions carried out by the Houthis. pic.twitter.com/FY5fZ9Jk8l— US Embassy to Yemen السفارة الأمريكية في اليمن (@USEmbassyYemen) September 19, 2021
Westley's statement was in response to the public execution of nine Yemenis by the Houthis, backed by the Iranians, which occurred on Saturday. They were part of more than 60 people the Houthis have accused of being connected to the killing of Saleh al-Samad in April 2018, according to The Associated Press.
The group was reportedly charged with spying for the Saudi-led coalition, which has been engaging in a war against the rebels for years in an attempt to place Yemen’s internationally recognized government back into authority.
Hundreds of people — mainly Houthis and their supporters — witnessed the execution, according to the AP. It took place in Tahrir Square, located in the capital of Sana'a, which is controlled by the rebels.
The United Nations also condemned the executions. A spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in a statement on Monday that he “deeply regrets” that the Houthis executed the Yemenis.
The spokesperson also said Guterres “strongly condemns” the actions, which were “a result of judicial proceedings that do not appear to have fulfilled the requirements of fair trial and due process under international law.”
The representative said Guterres is against the use of the death penalty in all situations, and reiterated that international law establishes “stringent conditions for the application of the death penalty, including compliance with fair trial and due process standards as stipulated under international law.”
Guterres, through his spokesperson, urged all parties and authorities to adopt a moratorium on using the death penalty.
The nine people who were executed, including a 17-year-old boy, were arrested in the months following al-Samad’s killing, according to the AP. They were reportedly detained for months in an undisclosed place where they endured inhumane treatment, the AP reported, citing Abdel-Majeed Sabra, a Yemeni lawyer representing one of the individuals who was executed.
Guterres's representative said the secretary-general condemned an airstrike by the Saudi-led group in Shabwa that allegedly killed at least six individuals from the same family.
“He reiterates that directing attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure is prohibited by international humanitarian law,” the spokesperson said.
“The Secretary-General urges all actors to cease the violence, and he encourages the Yemeni parties to engage with the United Nations in good faith and without preconditions to reinvigorate political dialogue to find a peaceful negotiated settlement to the conflict that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people,” the spokesperson added.