Report on Freedom of Press Violations in Yemen during 2000 PART 1 IN A SERIES [Archives:2001/21/Law & Diplomacy]

May 21 2001

Mohamed Sadiq
Head of Administrative Affairs, Yemen Journalist Syndicate
The issue of human rights violations, including the oppression of the press, has become one of the major issues debated worldwide. The reason why this issue has topped the agendas of many nations is the increasing number of sources that reveal incredible human rights violations all over the world, which resulted in anger, despair, and sorrow of the world community. Despite the fact that many countries have rushed into signing tens of agreements and documents promoting human rights issues and cooperating to limit human rights violations, yet we are still suffering from too many incidents of human rights violations, few of which are reported by independent NGOs.
The issuance of political statements regarding the importance of the protection of human rights on worthy occasions has become the routine of many political leaderships worldwide.
We are quite surprised to see advanced and developed countries use the issue of human rights as a propaganda to glorify their image while at the same time they continue to commit outrageous human rights violations in many different ways, particularly against neighboring nations under the excuse of the balance of power and the new world order.
Freedom of press remains one of the most important human rights issues as the freedom of expression and the freedom to know are the most valuable rights of all. The most important factor behind any peace move between leaders and their people, which is also called for by international organizations, is the importance of protection of the freedom of press and of journalists against any harm caused to them based on their writings. It is obvious that whenever any journalist is assassinated or injured intentionally, it is the international community that loses one of the voices of delivering the truth to nations. Whenever a journalist is tortured, oppressed, or killed, then the whole community suffers instantly as it will lose one of its fundamental rights: to the right to know.
Freedom of Press in Yemen
Trapped between Duty and Warnings
Yemen is ranked top among the countries where the freedom of press in particular and human rights in general, are violated intensely. Reports of international organizations rarely ignore allocating a significant chunk to the issue of human rights violations including assassinations, arrests, intimidation, blackmail, threats, torture, etc.
The reports on human rights in Yemen have been regularly mentioning about the worsening conditions of human rights, particularly in the field of the freedom of press and journalism in the year 2000. One of the international organizations dealing with human rights in Yemen had mentioned that the government committees to watch over human rights violations had failed incredibly in accomplishing their duties.
The Yemeni regime announced in the wake of the unification of the two Yemens in 1990 abolition of totalitarianism and promotion of democracy, allowing the freedom of press to flourish. It also made clear its intention to facilitate the formation of different parties and press establishments thereby heralding freedom of the press to report and granted the people the right to know. There is a law that regulates the freedom of press and journalism in general. It is the press and publication law no. (25/1990). Despite the fact that this law came out at a time of political balance that enforced the democratic process, yet after the balance has demolished, there was some fear of not implementing the law, which is among the best laws in the region. Fear of altering the law had increased of late as the Ministry of Information, which is in itself a direct violation of the basic freedoms of press, constituted a “financial board”, which came up with several complex regulations. The ministry had also let go its administration of press and publication and intensified the role of the press and publication attorney, resulting in the suspension and closure of several independent and opposition parties newspapers and filing lawsuits against many journalists who were dragged to courts where they were prosecuted as criminals.
The Yemeni regime is still renewing its commitment towards more democratic values and freedom of expression and press.
It is undeniable that the country has undergone several experiences of being between ebb and tide as the given margin of freedom had suffered in the past shrinking as well as widening. The main reason for that is probably the weakness of the judicial system in the country and its frequent biased stand.
Through this series, I provide to the readers the most complete and detailed report on the suppression of the freedom of press, which is the most important human right.
I believe that I have not been mistaken in writing a long introduction to this issue, because of the importance of this vital issue in our daily lives.
Being the official spokes an of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YSJ), which is the organization that works on defending journalists and reporting freedom of press violations, I am hopeful in presenting a clear and decisive report that would reflect the true misery of journalists in Yemen. Part II next week.