UN imposes sanctions on Houthi 'rape and torture' police chief

Sultan Zabin subjected women activists to rape and torture in police cells

epa09019307 Pro-Houthi soldiers ride a truck as they patrol in Sana’a, Yemen, 17 February 2021. Yemen has been in the grip of an escalating fighting since late 2014 after the Houthis gained control of most of the northern part of Yemen and forced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government into exile.  EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
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The UN Security Council on Thursday imposed sanctions on a Houthi rebel official in Yemen, blaming Sultan Zabin for the rape and torture of women activists.

The council voted to add Mr Zabin, director of the Criminal Investigation Department in the rebel-held capital Sanaa, to a list of people subject to travel bans and asset freezes.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the UK, which holds the UN council’s rotating presidency for February, said Mr Zabin’s use of “sexual violence” against Yemeni women campaigners was a “terrible crime”.

“Sanctioning Sultan Zabin clearly demonstrates that the international community will not tolerate the atrocious use of torture and sexual violence in conflict zones,” Lord Ahmad said.

“It is just and right that Zabin is sanctioned for leading the  heinous campaign of systematic arrest, detention, torture, sexual violence and rape against politically active women in Yemen.”

The UN resolution passed on Thursday said Mr Zabin held women activists at police stations and detention centres under his control and subjected them to intimidation and sexual assault.

“In these sites women, including at least one minor, were forcibly disappeared, repeatedly interrogated, raped, tortured, denied timely medical treatment and subjected to forced labour,” the resolution said.

“Zabin himself directly inflicted torture in some cases.”

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels took control of Sanaa and much of northern Yemen in 2014.

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened the year after in an attempt to restore the country's internationally recognised government.