Following the Human Rights conference,Fears from government insistence on passing journalism law [Archives:2003/696/Front Page]

December 22 2003

Mohammed bin Sallam
A number of members of Yemeni parliament denied on Tuesday that the parliament had received a written message from the Council of Ministers pertaining withdrawal of the Journalists Syndicate draft law the government claimed to have earlier this month sent to the parliament for approval.
Chairman of YJS Mahboub Ali had announced last week that the government requested not to discuss the draft law at the parliament.
Parliamentarians have recently affirmed in press statements that the parliament has postponed discussion of the draft law for a while but would be put to discussion later for approving it. They urged the journalists to serious and quick action using all media instruments to impede its discussion and withdraw it from parliament as soon as possible.
The Yemeni journalists had on 10 December gathered at the Syndicate headquarters openly expressing their rejection of the ill-intentioned law of the syndicate and also announced their determination to continue restraining their profession and hampering voluntary affiliation of trade unionist work. They had demonstrated their resolution to follow up the process of withdrawing and abrogating the law through carrying out certain activities such as:
-formation of a ” Committee of abolishing the Syndicate law'' whose task is to follow up the chairman and the syndicate council and sending messages to the parliament demanding and insisting on refusing the draft law,
-organizing a peaceful demonstration marching to the parliament building and handing over a letter containing rejection of the law altogether,
-maintaining contacts with relevant regional and international organizations, urging them on solidarity with Yemeni journalists.
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Meanwhile Mr. Hisham Basharaheel invited last week a number of independent and private sector dailies editors in chief for a large meeting in Aden to seriously discuss the draft law and the attendees had adopted a strong press campaign against the draft law and standing up to it. They were supported by a number of journalists, trade unionists and lawyers who criticized the law which they described as converting the syndicate into a punitive apparatus and watchdog of freedom. They also described the proposed draft law as imposing and levying royalties on party organ, opposition and private-sector independent newspapers that are in dire need of care, support and encouragement. The participants said postponement of discussing the law by the parliament and not withdrawing it would keep it as a sword drawn against journalists, demanding to keep journalists' vigilance active lest they should be taken unawares.
The council of ministers, ministry of information and the present leadership of the journalists syndicate had agreed on drafting a new law replacing the former one and benefiting from the Arab project presented by Arab Journalists Union. The draft law that had been had been presented to the council of ministers and the shura council was unlike and different from that the journalists had been informed on, a matter that that forced them to call for a plenary meeting. A committee was then formed for receiving ideas and remarks from journalists to be redrafted finally before being sent to parliament. But the surprise was that the draft law was referred to the parliament before taking into consideration the journalists remarks and ideas to be in its final draft. This had caused anger among the journalists who decided to defend their rights.