Officials seek explanations for Australian woman arrested in Yemen

21:51, June 01, 2010      

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Australian officials on Tuesday have been urgently seeking an explanation from authorities in Yemen after a Sydney woman was detained without charge and her children's passports confiscated.

Shyloh Giddens, who grew up in Sydney's west and has been living in Yemen since 2006, was initially placed under house arrest on May 14 along with her children.

Giddens has since been moved to a detention center while her children, aged five and seven, are now in the care of a family friend.

But a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said it remained unclear why Giddens had been arrested.

"The Yemeni authorities have not told us what charges the woman may face, nor how long she may be detained," the spokeswoman told Australian Associated Press.

The spokeswoman said Australian consular officials were continuing efforts to clarify details about her arrest.

"On four separate occasions consular officials have emphasized Australia's expectation that the woman be treated humanely and in accordance with international standards while in detention.

"We have asked that authorities consider the case expeditiously, noting our concern for the children's welfare.

"Consular officials will continue to raise the issue with Yemeni officials."

The spokeswoman said Australian officials had made frequent requests for the children's passports to be released and that they be allowed freedom of movement.

Australian consular officials in Riyadh last met with Giddens on Monday.

Her lawyer, Stephen Hopper, has complained that the Australian government was not doing enough.

"The government can't stand idly by while young children are being held by a foreign government," Hopper told the Seven Network.

"It's tantamount to kidnapping. The Australian government should be putting a lot of pressure of the Yemeni government to let these children go."

Giddens' passport was reportedly canceled by the Australian government in April.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials were in contact with the woman's next of kin in Australia.

Source: Xinhua


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