HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM IN YEMEN [Archives:1998/32/Law & Diplomacy]

August 10 1998


Dr. Salah Haddash,
Ph.D. Law (France)
The amended Yemeni Constitution of 1994, adopted multiple Human Rights principles.
Article 6 stipulates that the state confirms that it will act according to the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They are the generally recognized rules of international law.
Economic Rights
The Yemeni amended Constitution of 1994 recognizes various economic freedoms and rights such as the protection of private property, which cannot be confiscated except for public good and then in return for a just indeminisation according to a law; [Article 7, ( paragraph C)].
The second right considers natural resources, according to the Constitution, as state property. Its exploitation by the state must be guaranteed to be for the national good; (Article 8).Social & Cultural Rights
The 1994 amended Constitution proclaims various social and cultural rights, such as:
* Equal opportunities for all citizens in various fields; political, economical, social and cultural; (Article 24).
* The state guarantees freedom of scientific research; (Article 27).
* Education and health and social services being the joint responsibility of the state and society; (Article 32).
Political Rights
* Yemeni citizens have the right to vote in parliamentary and local elections and referendums; (Article 42).
* Forming political parties, associations and trade unions; (Article 57).
Criminal Rights
There are many rights which are adopted by the Yemen Constitution such as:
* The criminal responsibility is a individual one; (Article 46).
* The right to recourse to a court of law for the protection of the citizens legitimate rights.
To implement human rights principles in a full and complete form or way, there are various principles which should exist in any constitution that will guarantee the implementation of these rights. These principles are as follows:
1) Rule of Law:
This principle means that all legislation should be impartially implemented on all citizens, including the Head of the State.
According to the Yemeni Constitution, the Yemeni president is to be elected. He also can be accused of high treason or breaking the constitution, etc, and could be put to trial a any other ordinary citizen; (Article 126)
2 ) Separation Between Civil & Military Authorities:
This means that there should be two separate domains. In fact, this separation is a problem in any Third World country because in most of these countries, the head of the state usually comes to power by a coup d’tat. Fortunately, this is not the case in Yemen.
The Yemeni Constitution stipulates that the President of the Republic of Yemen is the high commander of the Armed Forces; (110).
In Yemen it is difficult to separate the civil from military authority, for this purpose a Presidential decree was issued to prohibit the Yemeni military from working or being involved in any way in the business field.
Also the election law demands that a military person standing for elections should resign from his military post.
The separation of these two domains is confirmed by the establishment of military courts to deal with persons who work in the army, and the existence of other systems of courts for civil persons.
The success of the civil society in Yemen is related to success of the separation of these two domains.
3) Separation of Authorities:
This principle means that the three authorities (legislative, executive and judiciary) should be separated from each other. And each one of them should have its own domain of action, its own institution, competence and members. Each authority also issues its own acts based on a special law.
The aim of this principle is to avoid the stronger authority dominating the other two. This is important in order to prevent the establishment of a dictatorship, whether civil or military.
The Yemeni Constitution states that there are three different authorities:
A: Legislative authority – the Council of Representatives – is elected directly by the Yemeni citizens; (Article 61).
B) Executive authority consists of;
i- The President of the Republic to be elected indirectly by the Council of Representatives. He is the head of the executive authority; (paragraph, 105).
ii- The Council of Ministers which is the government of the country consisting of ministers and headed by a prime minister; (articles 27 and 28)
C) Judicial authority consists of the courts (primary, appeal, and supreme), the prosecutors general and the supreme judiciary council.
4) Independence of the Judicial Authority:
The Yemeni Constitution proclaims the independence of the judicial authority, financially and administratively.
Any interference in the cases or affairs of the justice system is considered by the Yemeni Constitution as a crime punishable by law.
The Yemeni Constitution confirms the independence of this authority by stipulating that judges are also independent in their work. No person can dismiss a judge from his post, except according to the law. This guarantee confirms the independence of this authority only.
The Supreme Judiciary Council is the highest judiciary organ which nominates judges and dismisses them.
5) Constitutional Court:
This court has the authority to annul any law, if it contradicts the Constitution or if this law will allow an abuse of the legislative authority.
In Yemen there is a department for constitutional affairs within the Supreme Court.
6 ) Judiciary Control & the Administration:
The Yemeni Constitution states that within the court system there will be administrative courts. In the Supreme Court in Yemen there is a department for administrative cases.
This means that any administration act which contradicts a law or abuses any right can be annulled by a court.