CPJ: “Withdraw the press law” [Archives:2006/916/Front Page]

January 30 2006

Yasser Al-Mayasi
SANA'A, Jan. 28 ) The delegation assured that the press law the government intends to enforce upon journalists is defective and inconvenient to press liberty. Furthermore, it declared, it is not fit for a democratic country. The delegation noted that despite President Saleh's affirmations of respect for press liberty, the law proves otherwise.

The group requested Parliament and the government withdraw the law in order to create a free press atmosphere, stating, “We will convey a message to government officials urging them to abstain from imposing oppressive laws that curb the press, as well as a demand to conduct investigations into the assaults that took place against journalists. Ignorance of such offensives encourages violence against journalists. Moreover, such negligence is a transgression of public rights, in addition to its negative impact on Yemen's democratic image. It may cost Yemen the loss of a great deal of aid and donations.”

Delegation members assured that they will stand with Yemeni journalists and make the assaults against them known throughout the world. Delegation head David Marash affirmed that the CPJ will pressure the government by campaigning to prevent international aid if it continues violating journalists' rights. He continued, saying that punishments against journalists will impact Yemenis and their government negatively by costing them millions of dollars in investments and donations.

Marash declared that stifling journalists confiscates peoples' right to knowledge, inhibiting their knowledge capacity as well as killing their interest in economic and free political contests.

Joel Campagna, Senior Coordinator of CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Program, affirmed that the draft law presented by the government fetters press freedom. He said it contains a number of inconveniences to journalists, adding that it appears to be the work of an undemocratic state. The law also doesn't meet international standards and some of its articles deny career liberty, he pointed out.

Campagna determined that he found press liberty retreating in Yemen during the previous two years. He said delegates met with journalists, lawyers and activists to discuss press liberty and became acquainted with the series of harassments, kidnappings, wiretappings and newspaper cloning that occurs.

Campagna said the CPJ will publish a comprehensive report on the harassments they investigated during their visit to Yemen. He declared that stopping newspapers is not acceptable in light of international standards. He noted that CPJ reports are distributed worldwide and that many countries ultimately base their economic relations with other countries on such reports.