Independent judiciary helps the nation avoid turmoil [Archives:2008/1192/Opinion]

September 22 2008

Abdulwahid Al-Sharafi
Although the Law stipulates independence of judiciary, this authority is still weak and frail, thus contradicting confirmations made by lawmen in various texts. In order to inform the readers and observers of the poor judiciary lacking the required independence, we here list three similar cases of victims being arrested over practicing their religious rituals while marking the Ghadir Day or helping others learn about the Zaidi Sect.

All these cases are related with the freedom of intellectualism and sectarian pluralism, ensured by the Constitution and Law, as well as the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights. In addition, Yemen's Attorney-General has given directions to the relevant authorities to release those detained over exercising their religious and political rights, but these authorities refused to do so.

The Attorney-General directed security officials to free the religious Shiite cleric Mohammed Meftah, Chairman of Haq Party's Shoura Council, who was arrested a few days ago following his participation in celebrations of the Ghadir Day in Bani Heshaish areas, northeast of Sana'a. Also, the security authorities refused to hand the detainee over to the relevant prosecutor, in obvious defiance of the judiciary. In the same context, Security Department of the First Area in Sana'a refused to release the eight detained children, who have not attained 14 years of age, defying orders given by the Attorney-General.

The security department captured them under the pretext that they had been reserving historic information about Ghadir Kham, which was distributed to participants at the Ghadir Day celebrations in the Old Sana'a City-based Nahrain Mosque. The detained children were said to have taken part in marking the religious occasion.

When scandals multiply

Another scandal putting blame on the weak judiciary is that of the tragedy of ten people detained in Dhamar's Political Security Jail since February of 2007. The victims were arrested over allegedly having connections with the Sa'ada events, however, they know nothing about Houthis and their fight with the government troops. Some of these detainees suffer from chronic diseases and health problems like what happened to Abdullah Al-Dailami, whose condition worsened because of continued imprisonment.

The Attorney-General directed the concerned authorities at the Political Security to release the inmates or refer them to Prosecution in case they are found guilty of any crime, but they showed no response to the directions. Moreover, they prevented a group of rights activists, among them the MP Ahmad Saif Hashid, member of the Parliamentary Rights and Public Freedoms Committee, and media personnel from visiting the prisoners, however, such visitors were carrying a court verdict to the political security officers in order to allow them have access to the jail. Repeated appeals by civil community organizations, rights groups and political parties failed to free the detainees. They faced obstacles and difficulties like those posed to efforts expended by the Attorney-General.

Nevertheless, it is not logical to urge citizens to respect judicial verdicts and decisions and remain voluntarily or forcibly committed to them in exercising their rights and daily activities whereas the government agencies don't consider any of the judicial directions and therefore appear to defy them.

The consultative board for implementing platform of President Saleh has to be reminded that nothing of the item concerned with independence of the judiciary, which occupied a larger space in the platform, was implemented. Cases of these victims constitute live evidence of what we are saying and the ordinary citizen seems to have lost his/her trust in the government.

Source: Al-Thawri Weekly