Short portrait: Who is Abdul-Rahman Al-Zbib?
Abdul-Rahman Al-Zbib is a writer and lawyer, writes columns for Yemeni newspapers and appears regularly on radio broadcasts. His commitment to freedom of expression and human rights is something that cannot be taken for granted in a war-torn country where journalists are constantly exposed to threats and dangers.
Yemen is at the bottom of the World Press Freedom index, placed at 167 out of 180. Since the Huthi rebels took control of the capital Sanaa and large parts of the country, the situation for journalists in Yemen has deteriorated considerably. The Huthi leaders see journalists as "the most dangerous fighters on the battlefield”. Among other things, they are responsible for the kidnapping, torture and abuse of many media professionals. Arbitrary arrests or abductions of journalists occur repeatedly. Because of the massive pressure, many hundreds have left the country or given up their professions.
Nevertheless, Abdul-Rahman Al-Zbib continues to work and, with his effort towards an objective and professional view on the human rights situation in Yemen, is committed to being a "voice for the voiceless". In Yemen, one hears and sees the war at one's own doorstep, human rights are mistreated as a means of political pressure, says Al-Zbib. Therefore, in a country where war is "putting off" human rights, he feels obliged to educate civil society about their rights.
His texts are characterized by his efforts to promote independent reporting. In his columns, he analyses the socio-political and economic situation in his country. Al-Zbib writes about measures to tackle corruption or the lack of regulations to combat Covid-19, but also about the human rights situation in Yemen's prisons. On the radio station "Yemen Times", in the programme "Window of Justice" he offers citizens who face legal problems the opportunity to receive proper assistance. Meanwhile the program has become so successful that it almost functions as a coordination point between the affected citizens and the state authorities.
It is particularly important to the prizewinner Abdul-Rahman Al-Zbib to highlight the activists in Yemen, who show tireless effort and great commitment to human rights in their country. With his work he wants to demonstrate that Yemen should not only be perceived as a country of war, but also as a country of human rights activism.
Al-Zbib was born in 1981 in Sana'a, Yemen. He received a bachelor's degree in law in 2004 and completed his postgraduate studies in 2008. Abdul-Rahman Al-Zbib is the Director of Legal Affairs of the National Prisoners' Welfare Foundation Maysarah and since 2002 Vice President of the Federation of the College of Sharia and Law at the University of Sana'a.