a backdrop of historic political change for the region that has brought the
country to the brink of its own revolution, The International Partnership for
Yemen today releases findings from its joint mission that expose the critical
situation facing the media.
Partnership, a coalition of press freedom and human rights organisations
including ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression, The International
Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Media Support (IMS), and The
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), visited Yemen
in a week-long advocacy mission in November 2010.
report, published today and entitled "Freedom of Expression in Yemen: A
Critical State of Affairs", reveals that Yemeni media professionals live and
work in an extremely hostile environment.
violence is directed against journalists, while reports of abductions,
kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, beatings and torture are commonplace," said
Rodrigo Bonilla, Press Freedom Missions Coordinator at WAN-IFRA, the
Partnership's lead organisation. "The Yemeni government uses a powerful set of
draconian laws to stifle freedom of expression, while through tight control
over broadcast and print institutions, distribution outlets and advertising it
is seriously undermining the development of a strong independent media."
feel inadequately protected by the country's legal system and there is a
culture of fear surrounding editorial coverage of a wide range of issues. As a
result, self-censorship is common practice.
acts of intimidation and harassment of critical voices are further legitimised
by a parallel court system and with proceedings that fall short of the Yemeni
constitution," commented Dr Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.
"The Government should immediately abolish the system of special courts for
media related offenses, stop unjustified restrictions on freedom of expression,
and create an enabling environment for media and civil society."
revisions to the laws surrounding media regulation are expected to come
following the start of a parliamentary consultation process, wider
liberalisation and development of the sector is crucial if the media is to
provide effective coverage of the issues and fulfill its role of holding power
to account. "I hope that we will finally see a positive response from the
government in relation to the new press laws and access to information
proposals so that they fully meet international standards," said Antti Kuusi,
IMS Country Coordinator for Yemen.
a call to the international community for greater support, Yemeni media
professionals appealed to the International Partnership to help focus attention
on the urgent internal issues that are tearing the country apart.
editors and media professionals are insisting that urgent reforms are
introduced that will guarantee social and professional rights for all," said
Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Journalists work in conditions of poverty
and media exist in a twilight world of press freedom. It's time for wholesale change
that will set journalism free, create transparency and set the country on a
track that will bring democracy and prosperous development for all."
recent events have shown, the Yemeni people are growing increasingly frustrated
with President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year regime. As protests turn violent
with reports of government supporters attacking pro-reform demonstrators, the
International Partnership for Yemen urges the president to allow
greater media freedoms
to provide the credible and plural information that is at the very core of the
democratic society people are calling for.
report also calls for the immediate release of Saba news agency journalist Abdul Ilah Haider Shaea,
imprisoned for supposed links to Al-Qaeda. The international coalition is
concerned that Mr Shaea is being punished for his critical writing on the
government's terrorism policy.
The report can
be downloaded in full from http://tinyurl.com/68adzol (link
for download at bottom
of the page).
For more information, contact:
ARTICLE 19 Legal Advisor, Cynthia Cardenas: firstname.lastname@example.org
IFJ Middle East and Arab World Coordinator,
Monir Zaarour: email@example.com
IMS Country Coordinator for Yemen, Antti
WAN-IFRA Press Freedom Missions Coordinator,
Rodrigo Bonilla: firstname.lastname@example.org