Yemeni media expose rejection letter of YJS law at Sana’a conference [Archives:2004/702/Front Page]

January 12 2004

Yemen Times Staff
Members of the Yemeni media seized the opportunity of the 2-day Inter-Governmental conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Role of the International Criminal Court that started on Sunday. To express their total rejection of the proposed Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) law by distributing a letter to all participants at the conference.
The letter, which was drafted by members of major media establishments in Yemen protests the apparent unwillingness of the government to withdraw the law from parliament, and requests international support from participants to help in pressurizing the government to withdraw it.

Here is the complete text of the letter.
“Dear Participants of the Conference,
Dear Members of the PressWe cordially welcome all of you to Sana'a; the history and civilization, in a conference focusing on democracy as the best production of humanity. Those systems are based on freedom for all mankind. We hereby put forward the following facts in efforts to counter the Yemeni Journalists draft law presented by the government to the parliament concerning the current Yemen Journalists Syndicate, which is effective for more than two decades according to the constitutional right and internal legislation. The government presented the Yemen Journalists Syndicate draft law in December 2003 to the parliament.
This project is totally rejected by all journalists since it restricts the movement of journalists and the freedom of speech.A general meeting was held for all journalists on December 9, 2003 at the premises of the syndicate. At the end of the meeting, the chairman and the council of the syndicate undertook the responsibility for withdrawing the draft law from the government completely after the government postponed its discussion since all journalists rejected it.The chairman of the syndicate recited a letter in front of all journalists requesting the government to dismiss the draft law.
That letter has been hidden and nothing has happened till now. To the surprise of all journalists, there were several attempts to pass the law with promises to change some of its articles.
The existence of the syndicate law is a violation of the Yemeni constitution and law that consider membership and work in NGOs as volunteer work. The Yemeni constitution and the international agreements signed by Yemen ensure that all citizens enjoy the right to organize themselves and their inter-relations through internal legislation made by them without any supervision from any external party.
The draft law was widely condemned by most pro-press freedom international organizations including NY-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Paris-based Journalists Sans Frontiers and many others.This law, that makes the NGO's activity a constitutional duty, if passed, will restrict the Yemen Journalists Syndicate freedom.
Moreover, if the law is approved by the parliament it will automatically transfer the right from the hands of the syndicate's members to the parliament. This cancels the right of journalists in their organization.
Journalists will not be able to amend their law unless the government and the parliament approve the amendments. Yet, Yemen is a multiparty ruling system, in which citizens enjoy the right to join or establish organizations and societies voluntarily and independently. The syndicate mission is supposed to help protect their rights and interests and not create more restrictions.
We, the Yemeni journalists, welcome you again to this gathering that will definitely develop human rights and democracy and modernization in the region.
We wish that the participants will support our rejection and press on the government to withdraw the draft law permanently and completely and cancel it completely in order to ensure free and independent media in Yemen.
Representatives of the Yemeni Media