A country run through whims [Archives:2007/1092/Viewpoint]

October 8 2007

“Yemen is a state of law and order.” This is one of the many cliches repeated by the president. He claims this as a result of his 30 years of leadership. “We created good laws, whereby everyone is equal”, he keeps saying. However, no one really believes this because everyday life just proves the opposite.

It is as if the president is living in another country or chooses to ignore the reality of Yemen. What he does not realize is that he has lost credibility long ago, and none of his well-publicised speeches in official media, will change the way things are.

For one, the judiciary system is extremely corrupt to the extent that judges openly ask for bribes. A friend who had a case in court over a land dispute was shocked when the judge told him that wants more money in order to rule in his favor. Apparently the other party had given a bigger bribe, and it was matter of bargaining.

Official instructions have no meaning either. Starting from the president and down the authority ladder. I have seen several presidential orders whose destination was the dustbin. Sometimes it is a simple clerk who has chosen to ignore them.

For example, Yemen Times has been closely following a case of over 37 detainees in Hajja prison north Yemen. They had been detained without trial over 9 months until today, on charges of Houthism, whatever that means. There had been instructions to release the prisoners by the General Prosecution Attorney in Sana'a, by the previous governor, by the security committee leading the investigation in the detainees issue and nothing has happened.

“The deputy governor simply said he will not release my son, despite the orders. I don't know what else to do?” said one of the detainees' fathers. He had been running from one government official to the other in order to find a solution for his son's problem. But it appears to him now that it is a lost case, because it would not follow any logic. It is simply a personal whim of the deputy governor.

This is not the only example. There are hundreds of similar cases around the republic where the personal interest of someone in authority rules over the law.

Is this the state of law and order president Saleh is bragging about? Does he know his instructions are thrown in the dustbins of government offices? More importantly, would he care if he did?