Houthi court upholds five-year sentence for Yemeni actress Intisar Al Hammadi

Houthi court upholds five-year sentence for Yemeni actress Intisar Al Hammadi

A Houthi-run court has upheld a five-year sentence for jailed Yemeni actress Intisar Al Hammadi, who was convicted of committing an indecent act and drug possession, her lawyer said.

Al Hammadi was arrested along with three other women three years ago. Legal proceedings against the accused have been widely criticised by international rights groups.

The case has mirrored widespread Houthi repression and a crackdown on women in areas they control in war-torn Yemen.

Al Hammadi’s lawyer Khaled Al Kamal had previously told The National that his client had attempted to commit suicide shortly after she was jailed. He called the charges “baseless”.

Born to a Yemeni father and Ethiopian mother, Al Hammadi was arrested while riding in a car with friends in Sanaa. She was the sole breadwinner for her four-member family, which includes her blind father and disabled brother.

Human Rights Watch has criticised the court proceedings as “marred with irregularities and abuse”. It said the Houthis confiscated Al Hammadi’s phone and “her modelling photos were treated like an act of indecency”.

Al Hammadi and one of the women were first sentenced in November 2021 to five years. The other two were handed one and three years in prison, respectively.

The Court of Appeals in the Houthi-held capital of Sanaa upheld the sentences against Al Hammadi and Yousra Al Nashri, who was also handed a five-year sentence, according to lawyer Khalid Al Kamal, who represents all four women.

Yemen is now in its eighth year of war since the Iran-backed Houthis took over the capital Sanaa and a Saudi-led coalition intervened to restore the internationally recognised government to power.

In the Houthi-held areas, women who dare dissent, or even enter the public sphere, have become targets in an escalating crackdown by the Iran-backed rebels.

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