Dozens of murders, abductions, disappearances, jailings and assaults added to a grim toll of more than 100 press freedom violations in Yemen in the first half of 2016.
Among the attacks documented by the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) in its report covering the six-months up to the end of June 2016 were:
• 24 cases of abduction, detention, prosecution and disappearance,
• 13 cases of threats and incitement against journalists,
• 12 cases of assault on journalists and media companies headquarters
• 13 cases of blocking internal and external web sites.
• 10 cases of attempted murder, and
• six cases of murder
• 11 cases of torture,
• 7 cases of dismissal, suspension
• 2 cases of confiscation of journalists and newspaper belongings
In response the IFJ and YJS are set to launch a new campaign which will include safety training for Yemeni journalists across the country and a series of meetings for editors aimed at strengthening professional solidarity and cooperation in the face of rising violence and hate speech against journalists in the media.
The IFJ/YJS working programme is based on the recommendations adopted during a meeting for union leaders, senior Yemeni editors and journalists representing media from across the country - with the participation of the Federation of Arab Journalists -which was held in Amman and hosted by the Jordanian Press Association.
The meeting adopted two key documents, an Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and a Declaration on Incitement and Hate Speech.
In its report the YJS claims the Al Houthis and Saleh were responsible for the majority of violations (65%) with unidentified gunmen responsible for 15% of cases. Governmental agencies and security forces related to the internationally-recognised government committed 7% of cases, while the militant Salafist group in Taiz committed 6 %.
Other abuses were carried out by the Arab coalition (5%), and armed followers of the southern movement (1% )and members of al-Qaeda in Hadramout (1%).
In addition to physical attacks and threats the union also documented 7 cases of salaries going unpaid and dismissals by the Houthi group who control the Ministry of Communications. The group also blocked 13 web sites.
The YJS expressed its growing concern for the continuous war against freedom of expression in Yemen, and called for an end to the crimes and for the perpetrators to be punished.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “We demand an end to these killings, attacks and threats. Journalists are not combatants and they should not be dragged in to the conflict. Journalists must be allowed to work free from the systematic targeting media which creates such a bleak scenario for media freedom.
“We back calls by the YJS on all parties not to involve journalists in the political conflict, and for the release of all detained journalists held by the Houthi group and al-Qaeda. All international organizations concerned with freedom of opinion should loudly and forcefully express their solidarity with the Yemeni press and journalists and put pressure to end the systematic targeting of media freedoms in Yemen”.