Civil Society Parallel report to ESC Rights released [Archives:2003/685/Front Page]

November 13 2003

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Human Rights Information and Training Center (HRITC) and Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF) have recently released their parallel report to the National Supreme Committee for Human Rights (NSCHR) on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) which was submitted on April 27, 2002.
Yemen signed CESCR on February 5, 1987. The report which is currently being discussed in Geneva and prepared by HRITC and SAF has been meant to represent the views of the civil society in Yemen as the official report to CESCR was prepared in isolation from those organizations. “The present parallel report provides information on the priority issues related to the implementation of the Covenant in Yemen,” the report reads. It focuses in particular on women and marginalized groups including the poor, socially disadvantaged menial workers and the most excluded “Akhdam” (servant caste of presumed Ethiopian origin) for all these, according to the report, have no access to full rights to education, health, or cultural enjoyment. “They are in need of affirmative action to integrate them into society and pave they way for wider aspects of social justice, as they are incapable to compete successfully,” the reports stresses, adding, “positive discrimination should be adopted to give opportunities to categories which have underwent, for decades, injustice, unfair rules, disadvantaged social status and, consequently, general discrimination.”
The report presents State’s efforts to realize ESC rights as well as obstacles ahead, calling on the State to realize its obligations under the Covenant toward progressive and full realization of the enshrined rights on a basis of nondiscrimination, gender equality and rule of law. The report pinpoints that a deficit of political will and commitment constitutes a real barrier to serious attempts to realize sustainable development. It points out that extremist Muslim groups have spread horror in the Yemeni society as they threaten a large number of civil society intellectuals, leftist and secular persons. “The government objected and denounced the policy and strategy of these groups, and tracked down the criminals and brought them to justice. However, the atmosphere of horror prevailed within the Yemeni society because of the spread of fanatics. They exist everywhere, whether in urban or rural areas. They openly and clearly announced plans to kill and eradicate political opposition and adherents to the Isma’ilite sect,” it says. The report concludes with some important recommendations which are that the Government of Yemen should apply serious practical plans in order to decrease population growth, seek new alternatives to raise living standard and eliminate poverty, needs to create an active mechanism of cooperation among civil society organizations and support them as partners in development, promote awareness of human rights issues, adopt affirmative action to empower the marginalized group, review and amend some discriminating laws, address unemployment, poverty, and many other recommendations that have to do with social, economic and cultural rights.
The report is based on a national training workshop organized by HRITC and SAF in collaboration with the International Human Rights Federation and habitat International Coalition/ Housing and Land Rights Network in Sana’a during the period 11-12 October 2003. It is based on the discussions and debates of the participants who represented NGOs, media, politicians and human rights activists.