Parliamentarians & Media Forum to be Established Soon [Archives:2007/1084/Local News]

September 10 2007

By: Abdulqader Al-Emad
For Yemen Times

SANA’A, Sept. 6 ) Scores of journalists and parliament members agreed to establish a forum called “Media & Parliamentarians Forum”, in which they can discuss important issues.

This agreement came during the workshop entitled “Building Coalition between the Parliament and Media to Promote Freedom of Opinion and Expression”.

In this workshop, which was organized by Human Rights Information & Training Center and IRIX, the participants discussed several issues considered a big concern for parliamentarians and for journalists as well. Both sides believe that they urgently need each other to solve problems and tackle issues concerning the country.

According to the Yemeni Constitution in Yemen each citizen has a right to show his opinions but in accord with law. The conditions put in this law restrict freedom and cripple constitution as well.

Further, legislation concerning press and journalists can in fact lead to charges against them. In other words, it is easy for the ruling regime to trap any journalist and put him/her in trial.

It is also worth noting that this workshop came in response to the urgent pleas from journalists, demanding the recognition of their rights, according to national standards. Moreover, journalists in Yemen over the last few days have faced physical and legislative abuse from the government. But parliamentarians claimed that they suffer as well, not just journalists.

MPs complain that there is no media coverage for the sessions of parliament. While parliamentarians in the workshop were asking for good coverage of events and activities by the journalists, journalists ironically complain about actions taken against them whenever they want to cover a parliamentary session.

Sami Ghaleb: Editor in Chief of Al-Nida Newspaper commented: “Both sides do not do their best in helping each other for the sake of our nation)criticizing national press that work for special advantages. I went several times to the parliament to cover its sessions, but they never allow me to enter with a camera, recorder, or any other equipment that are usually used in press coverage”.

“Most of the Yemeni media has not positioned itself as independent yet, and since the majority of PMs belong to the GPC, it creates a real problem in understanding each other for the Public Advantage”, Ghaleb continued

However, one of the most important mechanisms that came out of the discussion was that the media and the parliamentarians are dependent on each other. On one hand, the media has to play its role in supporting the PM’s defense of their political immunities. On the other hand, PMs should help in modifying and creating good that preserve journalists’ rights.

For journalists, they were admired for their role the parliament is taking to address the concerns, but they say it is one-sided kind of cooperation. This is because the parliament usually comes out with positive recommendations and decisions, but they never follow them up until they become workable. Thus, they have demanded to make the follow-up process a priority of this coalition in the future.

The workshop, which lasted for two days concluded its program with devising workable for the forum to be called “Media & Parliamentarians Forum”. This will come hopefully after a meeting that is going to be held in the next two weeks.

HRITC represented by its General Director; Ezzadin Al-Asbahi, has promised the center’s readiness and logistic support until the participants can manage the forum themselves. This forum, according to the attendants, also is open to anyone who wants to join, in order to share their concerns for the development of legislation, enforcement of law, stabilizing democracy and freedom of expression.