When law and order crumble [Archives:2004/720/Viewpoint]

March 15 2004

This time, he knew and realized that what they have done is wrong. Journalist Saeed Thabet was confident in that the Political Security Organization (PSO) people were up to no good when they abducted him without regard for the law and order of the country.
He turned out to be right as the court's judge ordered the immediate and unconditional release of Thabet, amid the dismay or shock of the PSO.
“It is simply against the law” one of the lawyers of Thabet said. “What the PSO did is illegal, and we intend to file a lawsuit against them.”
Indeed, the PSO may have thought they would escape interrogation as usual, but this time they were the target of the angry reaction of people gathering in support of Thabet at the court's premises.
The attendants reminded the authorities' representative that the Yemeni Government had expressed its commitment not long ago to do all it can to start enforcing the law on all citizens alike in a step to establish the long-awaited state of law and order, which President Saleh mentioned many times in the past.
But what happened was in total contrast with all those promises.
When Thabet was apparently 'kidnapped' by Yemeni intelligence, which is the other name for the PSO, all journalists felt that this action was a blow to the efforts of Yemeni citizens to have the government respect law and order, because the PSO people never gave a damn about it.
Once again, kidnapping a regular journalist for claims of 'spreading invalid information' proves that the intelligence organization has acted unintelligently. This is obvious as the act of the PSO triggered widespread public anger and international dismay as several international organizations have condemned this act which basically violates the law of the State.
There are hundreds of different ways and means to gather intelligence and analyze data, which is supposed to be the duty of the PSO. But the organization has once again committed the very simple yet obvious mistake of violating the law without any justification, in kidnapping a free man and putting him in jail without any prosecution.
Thabet has said clearly that he wasn't to escape or run away. He emphasized that there was no reason to kidnap him as the PSO did, and that he would have willingly given himself up to the authorities if he had been asked to do so lawfully.
The last edition of Yemen Times published on Thursday showed on the front page one of the journalist protestors carrying a banner that speaks for itself, and describes the pathetic situation we are living in today in Yemen: ” 'NO' to kidnapping, 'YES' to the state of law and order”. Doesn't this ring a bell in the heads of our decision-makers? Isn't this the same slogan used by the government itself on various occasions?
Our President and decision-makers must believe that in order to establish the state of law and order, authorities such as the PSO and others must be the first to respect the Yemeni constitution and other laws. It is essential for those at top to lead as an example in practicing their authority in a legal and appropriate manner. Otherwise, if those who are supposed to be our models are the first to break the law, then there is no meaning in calling for the 'state of law and order'.
Let's not fool ourselves by imitating to be something we are not!