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Yemeni Journalists Syndicate report extensive press freedom violations

2 September 2016

Dozens of murders, abductions, disappearances, jailings and assaults add 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 websites
  • 10 cases of attempted murder
  • 6 cases of murder
  • 11 cases of torture
  • 7 cases of dismissal or suspension
  • 2 cases of confiscation of journalists and newspaper belongings

The YJS identify the perpetrators as the Al Houthis and Saleh and claim they are responsible for the majority of press freedom violations (65 per cent) with unidentified gunmen responsible for 15 per cent of cases. Governmental agencies and security forces related to the internationally-recognised government committed 7 per cent of the violations and the militant Salafist group in Taiz committed 6 per cent. Other abuses were carried out by the Arab coalition (5 per cent), the armed followers of the southern movement (1 per cent) and members of al-Qaeda in Hadramout (1 per cent). In addition to the physical attacks and threats, the union also documented instances of salaries going unpaid and dismissals by the Houthi group who control the Ministry of Communications.

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate has expressed its growing concern for the continuous war against freedom of expression and the union has also called for an end to the attacks on the media and for the perpetrators to be punished.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and YJS are set to launch a new campaign which will include safety training for journalists across the country and meetings aimed at strengthening professional solidarity and cooperation in the face of rising violence and hate speech.

The working programme is based on the recommendations adopted during a meeting for union leaders, senior Yemeni editors and journalists from across the country - with the participation of the Federation of Arab Journalists - held in Amman and hosted by the Jordanian Press Association.The meeting adopted an Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and a Declaration on Incitement and Hate Speech.

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, 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."

Tags: , yemen, yemeni journalists syndicate, press freedom, journalist safety, journalists injured, journalists killed, journalists intimidated, solidarity, ifj