Use gun laws, NOW [Archives:2002/41/Viewpoint]

October 7 2002

The shootout at the British Embassy reminds us of two crucial issues we have been ignoring for so long in Yemen: weapons and law enforcement.
The spread of weapons has brought development in the country to a standstill in terms of security and stability. Tourists, expatriates, diplomats, investors, and others visiting in the country have been expressing concern about this issue, which is a stumbling stone hindering any progress for Yemen.
How many times have we – in the Yemen Times – been pointing at this problem? How many times have others done the same? When will the government limit this danger that continues to inflict great damage to our country’s reputation?
Even though the shootout was given great attention because it happened beside the British Embassy, I believe that this is a matter that needs not to be shelved any more. It is a matter of life or death for our country’s development, and it is up to the leadership to bring solutions to overcome it once and for all.
The illegal carrying of weapons is not the only problem. Our administration has a serious failure in enforcing the law. We cannot build a state of law unless the law is applied on all citizens alike with no exceptions. This is how modern and developed countries are formed; through implementing the law on every citizen. Only then will Yemenis feel the law is on their side when they are oppressed and know they will be given rights back after decades of humiliation.
When looking at poor Yemenis waiting at the courts, you feel the agony, frustration, and desperation. They know their case may not be brought to a just end unless bribes are paid, and other means are taken. Why hasn’t the state developed a proper legal system throughout the last decade? Why wait until the country is in total chaos?
Yemen is a country that requires a system to keep the balance between different tribal factions. That may be true, but it should not be the excuse to dismiss the law outright. No one including tribesmen want to live in a country with chaos. Everyone wants to guarantee that the law is applied to all citizens regardless of their position, background, and region.
Yemen faces a great challenge. If this situation continues, not only will we be seeing more violence and violations, we will probably see the loss of the public’s faith in the country’s administration.