Thursday, September 19, 2013

Yemen: Journalists Under Attack

Government Should Investigate Violence

Human Rights Watch

"(Sanaa) – A surge of attacks on journalists since a new president took office in Yemen may overwhelm the recent progress toward freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. While the government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi has eased controls on the media as part of broader human rights reforms, it has neither denounced nor prosecuted harassment, threats and assaults by government and private actors against journalists, bloggers, and other critics.
The 45-page report, “‘A Life-Threatening Career’: Attacks on Journalists under Yemen’s New Government,” finds that while Yemenis generally enjoy greater freedom of expression since Hadi replaced Ali Abdullah Saleh as president in February 2012 after three decades of rule, this newfound freedom has been tempered by a rising incidence of threats and violence against the media. In the past, Yemeni journalists faced harassment from government security forces, but they now face threats from other quarters too, including supporters of the former government, Huthi rebels, southern secessionists and religious conservatives.

“President Hadi’s failure to address the attacks on Yemeni journalists not only denies them justice, but makes the media as a whole afraid of further and more serious attacks,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.“If the advances in free speech are to have a real and lasting impact on Yemeni society, the government should condemn and rigorously investigate all attacks on journalists and ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”

During visits to Yemen between February and April 2013, Human Rights Watch researchers documented 20 attacks on journalists. In one case, an outspoken journalist, Wagdy al-Shabi, 28, was murdered in his home in Aden in February, along with a friend. Al-Shabi’s wife heard gunshots in the room where her husband and his friend were talking. “I saw two men wearing civilian dress and military vests with guns,” she said. “They saw me and started shooting in my direction, but I was able to escape to the bedroom and hid with my children.” No arrests have been made in the case.

In other cases, journalists alleged that members of the security forces or of groups they may have criticized assaulted them or issued death threats. The editor of a journal, Ahmed Said Nasser, 35, said that he received many threats after his publication implicated former president Saleh in a 1977 political killing. “If you do not stop investigating this file,” he was warned over the phone, “you will be assassinated.”....."

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