YJS bill to be withdrawn [Archives:2003/694/Front Page]

December 15 2003

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Sanaa, Dec 13 – The Yemeni Journalist Syndicate (YJS) has requested last Wednesday the Yemeni government to withdraw and cancel the syndicate's proposed bill, which was supposed to be discussed in the parliament this month.
Tens of journalists from all over the country protested the bill and in a unique experience rarely observed among Yemeni journalists, a strong and solid unified stance was expressed in total rejection of the bill, which was allegedly passed through the Shura council, the government, and to the parliament without the approval of the journalist community, including members of the YJS.

YJS accepts responsibility
In a meeting held last Wednesday, the syndicate accepted the appeal by journalists to withdraw and cancel the law proposal, and said it would immediately act responsibly to achieve this. “As the representative of journalists everywhere in the country, and behalf of all the media establishments, I hereby declare that the syndicate will ask the government and authorities concerned to withdraw the proposed bill from the government and parliament.” Mr. Mahhoob Ali, the Chairman of the syndicate said in the meeting.

Extreme pressure
This comes after tremendous pressure was exerted on the syndicate to cancel the proposal, which was said to violate all laws and regulations concerning the freedom of the press, and does not conform to Yemen's move to broaden the democratic experience and open the way for more freedom. The step also comes following a clear message of condemnation sent to the President of the Republic Ali Abdullah Saleh from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in which it openly stated that this law hinders democratic progress and creates obstacles for journalists.

Bill anti-press freedom
It is worth noting that the proposed bill states that journalists must be members of the YJS to receive protection and to practice their jobs adequately. It also said that all media enterprises must pay 3% of their overall income from advertising to the syndicate, plus other articles that contradict with the freedom of the press.

Cancellation not guaranteed
However, journalists with legal background said that the calls to the government to withdraw the law may not be enough at all to stop it from being voted upon and approved because it has already passed to the parliament, which is not controlled by the government. Hence, many suggest that more efforts to stop the law from being past should be exerted and influential members of parliament need to be informed about the importance of not passing the bill, to prevent further deterioration of the freedom of the press.