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31 th May 2009

Arab human rights organizations signatories to this statement expressed their deep disturbance and concern over the persistence of the Yemeni Ministry of Information to launch its hostile campaign against press freedom and freedom of expression, and confiscating (al-Quds al-Arabi) newspaper for a period of four consecutive days. Since last April, the Ministry of Information has confiscated a large number of Yemeni newspapers and prohibited their printing; moreover, it blocked a news web site, meanwhile it announced the establishment of a special court for journalists; which pointed to a clear intention to continue to adopt a policy of repression and confiscation of freedom of expression and publication.

On 23 May 2009, Egyptian human rights organizations demanded the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to abolish the restrictions issued by the Ministry of Information and urge it to adhere to international standards of press freedom, and to breathe a new life into journalism in Yemen.” However, the Yemeni government turned a blind eye to the appeals of the organizations disregarding its international obligations and confiscated issues of Al Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

On October 12, 2008, the Yemeni judiciary supported a decision of first instance to prevent journalist, Khalid Salman, former chief editor of al-Thawri newspaper, from holding this position in any newspaper for a term of a year, and to prevent Nayef Hassan, Chief Editor of al-Share’ newspaper from practicing his profession for a year, the decision, which the public prosecution handed over to Hassan just a few days ago and ordered him to carry out its implementation, sentenced both Hassan and Salman (who is now living as a refugee in UK), to a fine of 10.000 riyals each, as well as one million riyals in compensation to the Ministry of Defense, which accused them before the courts 3 years ago.

The signatory organizations, while expressing their deep resentment of the behavior of the Yemeni government which belittles press freedoms and adopts a suppressive approach to silence voices and criticisms, and justifies its practices under the false pretences of maintaining the unity of Yemen, which is threatened by the opinion articles in newspapers, and feeling sorry for the negligence of the Yemeni President towards the appeal of a number of Egyptian human rights organizations few days ago, the Arab organizations which have signed to this statement repeat their appeal to the Yemeni President to lift the ban on all newspapers, and to order the printing of Yemeni newspapers once again, and to unblock the news web sites, also they demand him to restructure the legal environment in Yemen, which opened up a wide space to prevent journalists from practicing their profession, and to allow journalists Nayef Hassan and Khaled Salman to return to the practice of journalism and eliminate the negative impacts of the sentence against them, which disregarded the international standards of freedom of publication and expression.

The Signatory Organizations;

1. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.
2. The Arab Commission for Human Rights.
3. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
4. Sada “Echo” Website for Rights and Freedoms- Paris
5. Voix Libre “Free Voice” Organization for Human Rights.
6. Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Arab World.
7. Damascus Center for theoretical Studies and Civil Rights
8. Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA).
9. Human Rights First Society in Saudi Arabia
10. Arab-European Center for Human Rights and International Law
11. Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group
12. Sisters Arabic Forum for Human Rights
13. Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
14. Bahrain Human Rights Society
15. Bahrain Center for Human Rights
16. Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
17. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
18. The Association for Human Rights Legal Aid
19. The Arabic Programme for Human Rights Activists
20. Shumuu for Protecting Human rights
21. Habi Center for Environmental Rights
22. Civil Observatory Society for Human Rights
23. Egyptian Center for Housing Rights
24. The Dialogue Society for Development and Human Rights
25. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
26. Journalists Without Rights
27. The association of freedom of thought and expression
28. The Awn Society for Human Rights
29. The Woman’s Group for Human Rights
30. Elhak Center for Democracy and Human Rights
31. Egyptian Center for Development and Human Rights
32. Hemaia Center for Protecting Human Rights Defenders
33. Union Center for Development and Human Rights
34. National Center for Human Rights
35. Houqouqi association for the rights of the disabled
36. Group for human rights legal aid