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Palestine Refugee Family in Yemen Face Abuse Following Deportation from Saudi Arabia

[Alkarama Foundation logo. Image from alkarama.org] [Alkarama Foundation logo. Image from alkarama.org]

[The following statement was issued by Alkarama on 2 January 2013.]

The suffering of a family of Palestinian refugees continues after being forcibly deported from Taif, Saudi Arabia to Yemen in 2007. All the members of Al-Hadad family were recently detained by Yemeni security forces and then taken to Sana'a central Prison without any legal proceedings. Although some of the family members were released a week later, the father, Omar Eid Nimer Al-Hadad, and his son Mahmoud (20 years old) are still in detention despite orders from the General Prosecutor to release them. 

The Al-Haddad family was last detained on the 6th of October 2012 when Interior Ministry security forces stormed a tent in front of the Presidential Office in the capital Sanaa in which they had taken refuge. The whole family was taken to the central prison. Although the mother and her 7 children were released a week later, the father Omar Al-Haddad and his son Mahmoud are still held in detention without charge.

Director of the Alkarama Foundation's Legal Department, Rachid Mesli said "This detention is not the first of its kind which this family has been subjected to since their enforced deportation from Saudi Arabia in 2007." Mr. Mesli regarded the mistreatment of Mr. Al-Haddad in Yemen since that date as gross violation of their rights according to International Law including the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, ratified by Yemen in 1980.

Mr. Mesli urged the Yemeni authorities to halt the continued mistreatment of Mr. Al-Haddad and his family, to carry out an investigation into previous violations and to guarantee their full rights as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human rights.

The Al-Haddads ordeal goes back to 2007 when the Saudi authorities confiscated their residency papers and forcibly deported them after a dispute between Mr. Al-Haddad, who was born in Tai'f, and a Saudi prince for whom Mr. Al-Haddad worked for several years. The Al-Haddad family blames the Saudi authorities for the mistreatment they have been subjected to since they arrived in Yemen.

The family says they hold British passports which were confiscated by the Yemeni authorities and that Mr. Al-Haddad suffers from health problems which they fear could worsen in prison. Both father and son are being detained despite orders from the Yemeni General Prosecutor and the Central Prison Prosecution to release him. This reaffirms their unlawful detention and that keeping them behind bars is a dangerous indication to the absence of a political will on the part of the Yemeni government to improve the human rights situation in the country.

In August 2011, the whole family was arrested on charges of illegal residence in Yemen. In October of the same year they were informed by a security official that they have to leave the country and were to be deported to the United Kingdom. They were taken by security personal to the Airport, but were never allowed to fly instead being subjected to beatings from the Airport security. It was a this time that their passports were confiscated.

As a consequence they returned from San'a Airport homeless, with nowhere to go. They set up a small tent outside the United Nations refugee Agency offices (UNHCR) in San'a near the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights. There, they raised protest signs denouncing the Saudi Government. Alkarama's representative in Yemen visited the Al-Haddad family, in a bid to advocate their cause on the local level, and found them living in desperate condition. At the same time, the UN refugee agency started contacting a number of government agencies regarding this issue, as Mr. Al-Haddad is registered with the UNHCR.

The Al-Haddad family has suffered a series of abuses, including arbitrary detention. The father and two of his sons, aged 9 and 14, were arrested inside their family home on 2 June 2010 then lead to a detention centre belonging to the Anti-Terrorism Security Forces at the Ministry of Interior, where they were subjected to beatings and torture. At the time, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the Special Rapporteur on Torture requesting his intervention with the Yemeni authorities. It was only after 6 weeks of arbitrary detention and mistreatment that Mr. Al-Haddad was released. However, he was prevented from traveling outside of Yemen and charged with resisting police arrest and threatening Saudi embassy officials. A charge which his family say he was later cleared of.

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