Rule of law an urgency [Archives:2004/788/Viewpoint]

November 8 2004

I have been following up the attempts of the government to enforce the law on various levels. The law on carrying weapons, traffic laws, and laws dealing with the press have been my focus lately.
What I conclude is clear-cut and obvious. If the government wants to apply the law, then it can. The clearest example that comes to my mind is the law on prohibiting windows tint on all vehicles. Upon the announcement of the prohibition, people have indeed abided by the law and traffic officers were able to fine those cars that still had it.
Within a few weeks, millions of Yemeni rials were indeed collected in the form of fines from violators. Today, you can rarely see any car that still has window tints including vehicles of prominent officials and high-ranking military personnel. This clearly demonstrates that if there is a will, there is a way to enforce the law.
However, when it comes to other more important issues in the law, there seems to be lack of proper implementation. Take for example the issue of completing paper work at any governmental authority. Hinders and obstacles of all kinds are placed ahead of people who want to process their work. Eventually, it ends up in the hand of an employee who may not release the papers without a bribe of some sort. This is common in various offices throughout the republic and the rule of law didn't reach those individuals at all.
Corruption is widely spread in governmental institutions and not many could deny that. This raises the question why the authorities didn't do enough to curb it? And why are they turning a blind eye to such actions that violate the laws and rights of citizens?
The rule of law is a measure of the civilization of any nation. It is an indication of the trust of citizens in their governments and the ultimate sign of justice for all citizens. Hence, for Yemenis to live in peace and harmony, and for the country to kick off a revolutionary developmental campaign to progress the country, there needs to be extra emphasis on the rule of law as a safeguard for our country's future.
I know the government can do it because it did it in the past. But I also realize the challenges and difficulties lying ahead, especially when trying to hold prominent sheikh or military figures accountable in front of the law. Nevertheless, sooner or later those people will have to be treated equally under the constitution.
I believe we can have a fresh start these days after the end of al-Houthi's rebellion and the frequent cases of kidnappings, etc. Now that security in the country is somewhat established, there is a need to focus on the community and economy. To do so, the government can have a multidimensional campaign both in practice by ensuring that laws are being implemented in the authorities, by allowing a hotline for complaints by citizens, and by educational and awareness campaigns that need to reach out to both the citizens and the government.
It is a gradual process, but as I always say, we need to start somewhere. I hope the government could start soon.