Following assaults on journalistsAmnesty International calls for journalist’s protection [Archives:2005/872/Front Page]

August 29 2005

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
In a recent communique, last Friday, Amnesty International expressed concern over the continued harassments of Journalists in Yemen, especially those who criticize government policy. The communique added that they are still subjected to offenses including arrest, beating and the confiscation of private property including documents and computers.

The communique came in the context of a number of threats free speech in the media such as the recent detention of journalist Jamal Amir, chief editor of Alwassat news paper on the 23rd of August. Amir was abducted, taken to an unknown place, beaten and threatened with death. The incident came after his newspaper published articles criticizing government officials and accusing them of corruption.

Amnesty was also concerned by the harassment of journalist Ahmed Alhaj of the associated press, whose office was ransacked by security forces. They took away a number of files, a computer and arrested the office guard who is a Somali national. It is presumed that he is still in detention in Sana'a.

The communique also mentioned the case of journalist Sami Ghalib, Chief editor of Alnida' newspaper whose files and computers of the newspaper were also confiscated by security forces who entered his offices.

The communique criticized the cancellation of the license of women Journalists without borders, following their establishment of reports on the July 20 demonstrations in which a number of people died.

In its communique, the International human rights organization called on the Yemeni Government to put an end to the harassments and violations of person and property. They demanded the observation of journalists rights according to article 19 of the International Charter for political and civil rights, which Yemen is party to.

Amnesty asked the Yemeni government to start an immediate independent investigation.

All this is occurring in an apparent wave of media repression. A number of armed people abducted journalist Jamal Amir last Tuesday and took him to an unknown destination. He was beaten and threatened with death if he published any criticism or corruption accusations of government officials. The Ministry of Interior pledged to find offenders and bring them to justice.

In a connected incident, the belongings of the Associated Press office, Alnida independent newspaper offices and the offices of A.P.T.N. Television were entered and violated.

In a special release to Yemen Times Ahmed Alhaj, Correspondent and manager of PA.P.T.N TV, said that he it was not surprised that his office was disturbed and stolen, following the series offences and threats they received last month. He said that 2 mackintosh computers costing $3500 were stolen, in addition to video cameras, a recorder and a fax machine. All the documents in the office were badly disturbed.

Alnida newspaper, which is published in the Associate Press building, lost its layout and design computer which was stolen, together with the whole newspaper's archive.

Women Journalists without border also condemned creating another parallel organization to their own organization. Journalist Twakl Karman assured that their organization was a legal one, because it was declared through media in March 2005 and the Ministry of Social affairs welcomed it. Observers think that the real reason for the sufferings of the organization is its criticism to government policies.

Due to all these developments the Journalists Syndicate members staged a sitting in the Syndicate's building last Thursday. A council for consolidation with the journalists was formed for coordination with the Governmental and non governmental organizations to follow up freedom cases and the harassments against them.

Reliable sources in the Ministry of Interior said that their ministry is looking for the offenders to bring them to account.

The Arab Journalists Union and the Freedom Committee condemned on Thursday August 25 the kidnapping of the Yemeni Journalist Jamal Amer who chairs the Yemeni paper of al-Wasat by an armed group.

The union called in a statement upon Yemeni authorities to arrest the gang that kidnapped the journalist and to divulge the circumstances surrounding the incident. Secretary General of the Union Salahuldin Hafez voiced solidarity with the Yemeni journalist and the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate to defend journalism freedom and guarantee journalists's safety.

AI: Harassment of Yemeni jurnalists must stop

Amnesty International Public Statement

26 August 2005

Amnesty International is concerned at the continuing harassment of journalists by Yemeni security forces. Journalists critical of the government are being increasingly targeted and face abuses, including arbitrary arrest, beatings or confiscation of documents and computers. Such targeting by the security forces ostensibly aim to silence journalists and prevent them from reporting.

On 23 August, Jamal Amer, chief editor of al-Wassat newspaper, was arrested by security forces from outside his home in Sana'a and taken to an unknown destination where he was beaten and threatened with death. The attack on Jamal Amer followed articles published by al-Wassat newspaper criticizing government officials and accusing them of corruption.

One day later, the office of Ahmed al-Hajj, an Associated Press journalist, was reportedly raided by six members of the security forces, who confiscated his files and two computers. The office's security guard, Mohammed Abdel Badir, a Somali national, was reportedly arrested and is believed to be detained at the Political Security prison in Sana'a.

On 25 August, security forces also reportedly raided the offices of journalist Sami Ghalib, a journalist at al-Nidaa newspaper, and seized files and computers.

Women Reporters without Borders reportedly had its licence revoked after it published reports regarding demonstrations on 20 July, in which dozens of people were killed.

AI calls on the government of Yemen to put an end to harassment, intimidation and other abuses against journalists, and to ensure respect of the right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Yemen is a state party.

Amnesty International also urges the Yemeni authorities to promptly carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the abuses against these and possibly other individuals and bring to justice anyone found responsible for any such violations.