Information Ministry withholds PM instruction to license newspaper [Archives:2007/1050/Front Page]

May 14 2007

By:Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, May 13 ) As a follow up of their case against the Ministry of Information, journalists, civil society, political leaders and others lead by Women Journalists Without Constraints organization protested in front of the Ministry demanding it to adhere to the Prime Minister's instruction. The journalists had protested last Saturday in front of Yemen's Information Ministry and Prime Minister Ali Mujawar's office demanding him to interfere in the oppression against the organization.

As a consequence of the previous protest, a delegation of five representatives to the prime minister to explain the issue of granting newspaper licenses in general and the WJWC issue in particular resulted in him explicitly instructing the ministry to grant the group a newspaper license quickly and without hindrance. An instruction that met a dead end at the Ministry of Information.

Commenting on the WJWC issue and the protest, Ibrahim Abdulhabeeb, general director of the Information Ministry's Press and Publications, commented: “The application was rejected because organizations and associations are only allowed to issue a private newsletter with limited circulation to their members to highlight their activities, unlike political parties, which are allowed to have their own general political newspapers.” He justified this, commenting that since there are more than 6,000 organizations in Yemen, it's nonsense for all of them to have licenses to establish newspapers.

However, article number 40 of the Press Code contradicts this allegation as it clearly stipulates the right of organsiations among others to issue their own newspapers, confirmed Dr. Mohammad Al-MIkhlafi head of the legislations department at Sana'a University.

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Khalid Al-Anisi, a lawyer for HOOD, the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms, stated that Yemeni law grants organizations and political parties the right to establish newspapers without obtaining a license and they are only obliged to inform the Information Ministry about the newspaper for registration purposes.

“They would know that I am right had they read the law,” complained Karman. The same justification to the rejection was given to a delegation of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate who had a meeting with the Minister of Information yesterday.

The reaction to Karaman's outrage has pushed the Information Ministry a further step, as it warned the Ministry of Communication to suspend the organization's SMS news services, declaring that any such services require Information Ministry permission.

Al-Anisi commented on this by saying “The Information Ministry is looking for ridiculous excuses to suppress freedoms, which explains our anxiousness at reappointing the current information minister, from both before and after unification, because he has a history of suspending newspapers owned by individuals or organizations and even political parties, such as Al-Sahwa, which recently was threatened with suspension because they appointed a new editor-in-chief, although publishing news of the new appointment represents legitimate information in itself.”

Karman maintains that her organization is holding onto its right to obtain print and audiovisual means according to Yemeni law, which grants all Yemeni citizens the right to expression and to establish newspapers. “In Yemen, freedom of opinion and expression are pledged by the constitution, but forbidden by the authorities, ” she said.

Karman declared that her group won't stop fighting for their right to obtain a newspaper, adding that they also have applied to the ministry for a license to establish a radio station; however, she noted that the ministry refused the application without even filing it.