YJS appeals to President on journalists imprisonment [Archives:2004/741/Front Page]

May 27 2004

Mohammed bin Sallam
The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, in a statement issued last Thursday, May 20, called for suspension of the imprisonment of journalists Mr. Jalal Al-Sharabi, former Editor-in-Chief of “Al-Asboua” weekly newspaper, sentenced to three-month imprisonment (suspended), and Mr. Naif Hassan and Foad Al-Rabadi, who were sentenced to five months.
“The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate has been following with great concern the series of court trials of journalists working at governmental, private and political party-affiliated newspaper, as well as registering an increased number of reports and claims from journalists of threats, aggression and intimidation”, said the statement.
“The YJS follows also with concern the reciprocal campaigns between the official press and that of the opposition, which represents a serious unprecedented practice, isolated from the principles of the profession. The provocation, intimidation, threatening and dismissal from work have extended to the slander, degradation and defamation not only of those working in the profession, but also others”, the statement elaborated.
The statement concluded by extending an urgent plea to all journalists at the various official, private and party media organizations, to all political and opposition leaders, and to interested figures and intellectuals who are concerned with the shaping of public awareness, to seek that our journalism should become more free and unrestricted. “We want journalism to administrate dialogue and to practice constructive and responsible criticism, and not to get even or to settle previous personal grudges and political disputes. The Yemeni journalism family, of all sorts of political affiliations and goals, strongly believes that the profession is above any other considerations, conflicts and disputes”, said the statement.
The defending counsel of Jalal Al-Sharabi, Mr. Naif Hassan and Foad Al-Rabadi, chaired by famous lawyer Mohamed Naji Alaow, intends to submit appeals against the courts' verdicts, and to postpone the implementation of verdicts until the highest judicial proceedings are carried out.
The verdict of Sana'a Western Court came as a surprise to the press circle, which is already suffering from a set of restrictive measures against its freedom. The verdict, to imprison the three above-mentioned journalists, received wide condemnation and led to discontent from all political and social circles and civil society organizations.
The Press Freedom Protection Center, chaired by lawyer Mohamed Sadeq Al-Odine, issued a similar statement expressing its great concern about the future of journalism and freedoms of expression and opinion, especially in the light of the increase in the arrests of journalists and multi-source violations against the press and journalists. The Center renewed its demand that the government abide by its obligations and commitments stipulated in international conventions, pacts and protocols, signed and ratified by the state, concerning protection of human rights and support of press freedom.
The statement called on civil society organization, political parties, various unions, activities, advocates and representatives of international human rights organizations to immediately react and to declare their utter solidarity with Yemeni journalists in confronting this “fierce attack”, and to organize activities to protest against the repressive policy and violations.