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|Violence Against Prisoners and Journalists in Mahweet|
Written By: Assma Almasmari
Article Date: April 14, 2008
Though the country has seen an increased number of newspapers and websites, dozens of editors and journalists are exposed to attacks. Moreover, pressmen were jailed and others were threatened to be killed.
It is now understood by small officials that practicing violence against journalists is a normal procedure and that journalists deserve punishment.
In addition, low level officers realized by experience that nobody will hold them responsible for such attacks, so they practice it without fears.
Journalist Abdul Karim Mohamed Al-Khayati claims that he received threats by phone calls from Al-Mahweet Central Prison's Head Maj. Abdu Al-Hadad. "I was threatened to be killed, if I write once again about the Mahweet prison's condition," said Al-Khayati.
Al-Khayati also sent a letter to the prosecution office of which the Yemen Post received a copy showing the attorney general of the circumstances of the incident, claiming that he did not mention all that was included in a letter he received from the prisoners which disclose numerous cases of torture.
Meanwhile, independent and state-owned newspapers in Al-Mahweet expressed their solidarity with their fellow Al-Khayati and voiced concern over the barbaric behavior by Al-Hadad and the diminishing margin of press freedom.
Head of Liberties Committee at Yemeni Journalists Syndicate Sami Ghalib stated that the government lacks the intention to stop violence against journalists, hinting it failed to face the crisis and in return, it turned to restricting press freedom.
Ghalib added that the government is incapable of widening the margin of press freedom, especially these days as the government is going to parliamentary elections.
Hundreds of Yemeni journalists have been subjected to abuses, harassment, kidnapping, threats of physical liquidation, etc, over the last few years mainly by security forces and personnel.
Bad treatment in Yemeni prisons
The condition of prisons in Yemen is still bad and far behind international standards. The government currently doesn't allow foreign orginizations to visit the prisons or inspect them on a normal basis, therefore, giving the government the ability to treat prisoners in any way they feel appropriate. Only recently were human rights organizations, parliament members, and non-governmental organization given limited permission to enter such prisons.
Letters and complaints coming from prisons throughout the country have witnessed an increase according to human rights activist Khalid Al-Anesi. In these letters, prisoners mentioned prohibited violations and maltreatment against them by prison officers. Prisoners also referred to the lack of basic services and the mass crowding in prisons. "The government is not taking this issue seriously, just like all the other issues in the country," said Al-Anesi.
Yemen Post received a copy of a letter sent by 42 prisoners to Al-Mahweet governerate complaining about the unreasonable treatment from the prisons' officers.
Member of Parliament Shawqi Al-Qadhi said prisoners' state is dangerous especially under the corruption, which is dominant in state institutions, adding that the weak role of the Yemeni parliament leads some officials in the government to practice corruption everywhere including prisons.International observers and local activists assured that Yemeni prisons are in a bad condition although the government gave limited permission to the Ministry of Human Rights and non-governmental organization to observe such prisons.