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|International Report Criticizes Yemen’s Oppression Against Media and Journalists|
Moneer Al-Omari ( YEMEN POST
Article Date: March 31, 2008
Amman Center for Human Rights directed harsh criticism to Yemen for failing to observe human rights together with the continuing setback of freedom in the country.
In its report, the center accused the regime and Yemeni government of imposing force between what is codified by law, and what is really practiced, stressing that Yemeni laws have not contained the technological developments in media and information field.
The report pointed out that press and printings law of 1999 and its executive bylaw is an example of the setback from what had been stated in the constitution, hinting the Yemeni government has been signaling amendments to the law that targeted electronic media and Journalists Syndicate.
Further, the Yemeni government replaced journalist imprisonment with levying fines on him. This adds a new burden to independent and partisan media which has limited resources.
The report also indicated that the new law known as national unity, internal front and social peace protection law was referred last week to government and parliament as it aims to legalize the suppressive acts and allows the government to severely punish opponents, especially when prison terms were between two and 15 years in the past.
It as well criticized the new law which is still under discussion and declared it worse than the previous one because it set no limits for freedom of expression as well as unclear terms which could be misinterpreted.
Media sources told the Yemen Post that the report of Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) is still on hold for unknown reasons, hinting this could have something to do with the violation cases recorded in the report since 2004 which amounted to 110 ranging from beating, harassment, attack, kidnapping, etc.
Meanwhile, the preparations are underway in YJS for the elections due to be conducted next July at a time when authorities are exerting their efforts to back a new council to replace the current members of YJS council who are mostly from opposition.
The sources also indicated that chairman of YJS Nasr Taha Mustafa has shown no interest in nominating himself once more for the post, though he has created a sense of harmony between the government and the syndicate.
The existence of Taha has helped not to escalate the violations at national and international levels. It also helped the syndicate to buy a building and to entirely equip it with YR 70 million.
Experts believe that Mustafa has been incapable of handling the situation, especially when the government is seeking to impose a restriction on press freedom, something rejected by him, and his inability to dominate the syndicate whose most council's members belong to opposition parties.
Amman report also criticized the government for launching a satellite channel known as Saba, though the name has been reserved previously by Yemeni businessman Hamid Al-Ahmar. Ahmar considered this move to be a restriction on expression and freedoms even when telecasting from outside.
It as well criticized the official media and said that it works according to the old mechanism as it offers propaganda for the ruler and the ruling party while working on sidelining others. It maintained that it terrorizes opponents and accuses them of being atheists and agents.
Moreover, the report stated that the aggression against journalists have been varied ranging from declining giving licenses, withdrawing the licenses of existing ones or preventing circulation and publishing.
According to the report, the authorities also trialed some papers before prosecutions and courts and exercised pressure on advertisers in an effort to force concession on the part of private and independent media. Likewise, they practiced suppressive detentions, harassment, terrorizing, wiretapping, blocking websites, inciting security and army against press, etc.
The report also named some blocked websites namely because of the opposing position of the regime's policies.
Electronic Sites Committee announced earlier that they reached no agreement with government over lifting the block of some websites.
The committee further saw not including it in the discussions of the new law as a bad will by authorities who seek to strangle the electronic media which has been widely spread.It also demanded YJS and civil society organizations to work for preventing the issuance of the new law which will certainly impose wide restrictions on electronic media.