CTPJF: 2004 is worst year for press freedom in Yemen [Archives:2005/807/Front Page]

January 13 2005

Mohammed bin Sallam
The Center for Training and Protecting Journalist Freedoms (CTPJF) points out in its annual report on Yemen that the year 2004 was the worst year for press freedom in Yemen and its democracy.

It revealed that the freedom of expression and press in Yemen in 2004 for the first time was severely targeted and scrutinized probably 'because of the growing role the independent and opposition press was playing in the society.'
rnThe report considered the latest attacks on the press in the form of jail sentences, harassment, etc. to be truly unprecedented and never occurred even before approving political plurality and journalistic diversity after of the reunification in 1990 or even after 1994 war.

The report states that: “What makes the year 2004 distinguished, compared to previous years, is that it was the worst and the darkest as well in the history of democracy and rights of press freedom in Yemen.

Journalism witnessed sentences of imprisonment against many journalists. Some journalists were kidnapped by the police forces. A variety of other procedures such as revoking of licenses, harassment of journalists, confiscations of a number of private and independent newspapers. Cases of attacks, sacking from jobs and corporal punishment against writers and journalists were registered.”

The report pointed out that there are several publishers, editors-in-chief and writers who are still subjected to collective investigations in front of the prosecution under pretext of publication cases. In addition, the issue of the detention of Al-Shura's Editor-in-Chief and suspension of his newspaper is another example. The publisher of Al-Huriyah, one of the outstanding private and independent newspapers, and one of its writers are suffering from detention after they have been sentenced to a two-year imprisonment in December 2004.

Mohammed Sadiq Al-Odaini, Director of Press Freedoms Center, explained the 'miserable' conditions of the professional freedom and liberties in 2004 mentioning that the center recorded an unprecedented rise in the average of verdicts of severe punishments against journalists and non-governmental newspapers. Some of those penalty verdicts were given for the first time in Yemen's history and signaled a dark age in Yemen's judiciary. He mentioned that the average of such verdicts issued against journalists and writers increased by %80 compared to 2003. The events of detention, kidnapping, chasing and attacking journalists increased as well.

He declared, “the report of our center for 2004, being recorded throughout the year, treated more than 120 cases of gross violations and harassment against the press in details.”