YJS Chief: We have freedom but not free press [Archives:2006/916/Local News]

January 30 2006

SANA'A, Jan. 24 ) In a meeting of Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) members at the Shura Council Tuesday, YJS Chief Mahmoud Ali renewed the syndicate's rejection of the recently issued Press and Publications Law.

YJS members described the draft press law as a “setback” and a “disappointment” in that it only imposes more restrictions on private and party-affiliated newspapers.

The YJS Chief advocated allowing opposition writers and journalists to write in official newspapers, which should be 51 percent owned by the government and 49 percent by journalists.

In his meeting with Shura Council Deputy Chairman Abdullah Al-Bar and committee members authorized to study the new draft press law, Ali stated, “In Yemen, we have freedom, but we do not have a press with the same level of freedom,” noting that Yemeni journalists are the poorest worldwide.

Journalist Ali Al-Jaradi attributed YJS rejection to the draft press law's content, which never included any right for media plurality. Instead, it contained bans and constraints on journalism. He claimed it cancels penalties amounting to the death sentence and tough procedures the press law imposes on journalists.

Al-Bar emphasized the need for homogenous viewpoints on the draft Press and Publication Law through consultative meetings with YJS members, party leaders and civic organization representatives. He added that the Shura Council will never approve any law imposing restrictions on press freedoms.