Yemen urged to investigate violations against journalists [Archives:2007/1022/Local News]

February 5 2007

New York, Feb. 1 ) The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern in a letter to Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh that one year after a government pledge to investigate a series of brutal assaults on journalists the crimes have gone unpunished.

The letter, of which a copy was directed to to Yemeni Ambassador to the U.S., Abdelwahab Al-Hajjri, stated that in a meeting with Prime Minister Abdelqader Bajammal in Sana'a in January 2006, a delegation voiced concerns about mounting restrictions on the press, including a chilling spate of violent assaults on journalists in 2005. Government agents were suspected of carrying out several of the attacks.

Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director, asserted that a free and vibrant press hinges on the ability of journalists to carry out their work without fear of reprisal or the threat of violent attack.

“(Yemen's) government's failure to solve these disturbing crimes, despite a pledge to do so, sends a message that Yemeni officials are unconcerned when journalists are brutalized and runs contrary to repeated public statements by Yemeni officials in support of press freedoms. We therefore urge you to take immediate action to ensure that those responsible for these attacks are located and brought justice and that your government makes public the results of its efforts to solve these crimes,” he said.

Part of the letter reads, “A year later, however, those responsible for the assaults have evaded justice. Government investigations have proved either incomplete, or it appears that serious inquiries were never launched at all. In only two of the five cases that CPJ brought to the government's attention did authorities identify suspects and initiate legal action. One of those cases was dismissed, and the other is pending with the suspects free. In three of the five cases, authorities have yet to identify those involved, and it appears that no serious effort was made to do so.”

The cases CPJ raised with Prime Minister Bajammal last year included the abduction of Jamal Amer