Journalism Freedom Protection and Training Center condemns violation of freedoms [Archives:2004/730/Local News]

April 19 2004

The Journalism Freedom Protection and Training Center (JFPTC) issued a statement condemning the judicial decision issued against colleague Saeed Thabit, Under-Secretary of Yemeni Journalist Syndicate (YJS) and correspondent for Al-Quds Press News Agency, who was banned from practicing journalism for six months in addition to a fine.
The statement described the sentence as “A disappointment and it brings more fear to the future of journalism and freedoms of opinion and expression in Yemen”.
The statement says, “At the time advocates, activists, journalists and civil society corporations, inside and outside the country, were awaiting a decision which rebuilds the reputation of the judiciary in Yemen, they were shocked by the decision of Sana'a South Western Court on Tuesday 13 April 2004, banning Mr. Saeed Thabit from practicing journalism for six months. He described it as death sentence.”
The statement added that various restrictions and pressure against journalists have resumed with the escalating policy and practice of kidnapping and arrests that some colleagues have encountered, including physical and mental abuse, intimidation, and deprivation of the rights to publish the information obtained for the public.
Many of the practices and judicial verdicts issued against colleagues exceed the borders of subjectivity and legitimacy. Verdicts like this do not only target the freedom of journalism guaranteed by the constitution and internationally demanded, but targets also “the ruling system”, which consequently squeezed itself into a predicament and a dilemma before the world and the international community.
The encouragement of a policy of repression and the violation of freedoms and rights by the Political Security Apparatus, “adherent to the President personally” constitute a great offense against the reputation and obligations of the ruling party and broaden the scope for international condemnation. Yemen has become among the countries to receive the harshest criticism. In the first international ranking of journalistic freedom, prepared by Reporters without Borders, Yemen was placed at the bottom of the list. Yemen was also among the 14 countries with the most violations committed against human rights according to the classification of Amnesty International Organization.
At the conclusion of the statement, the Journalism Freedom Protection and Training Center expressed its great concern at the various infringements of journalistic privileges in Yemen. It reminds the government of its obligations and commitments stipulated in international conventions, treaties and protocols, signed and ratified in the name of “The Republic of Yemen”, as a country obliged to protect human rights, to advocate and embrace the freedom of journalism, and to guarantee and respect freedom of expression. As a country supposedly concerned with the strengthening of the building of the state, the independence of judiciary and abiding by international standards in policies, legislation, and judicial, civil and political dealings. Yemen is supposed to be a country committed to translating its obligations towards human rights and general liberties into reality.