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Attacks on journalists in Yemen by the country's own authorities occur on a scale and frequency that give reason for serious concern, say two new reports launched this month.

ARTICLE 19's report, "Yemen: Freedom of Expression in Peril", looks at the deteriorating free expression situation in Yemen over the past few years, especially after 9/11, when the authorities linked arms with the U.S. in their war on terror and arrested suspected members of al Qaeda - and the journalists who covered the crackdown. Despite the ebb in the arrests, authorities continue to prosecute, imprison and even physically assault journalists.

Free expression is further at risk by a "weak and corrupt judiciary that fails to implement constitutional guarantees and redress the wrongs suffered by journalists." ARTICLE 19 points to the recent prosecutions of editors before the Special Criminal Court on Terrorism for terrorism-related charges where they could face the death penalty.

The government's restrictions of free expression are not limited to the media; women are often attacked in gender-based slur campaigns, says the report. ARTICLE 19 recommends that Yemen adopt anti-discriminatory legislation to help "empower women to exercise their right of freedom of expression."

Download "Yemen: Freedom of Expression in Peril" here:
- English:
- Arabic:
Meanwhile, local press freedom group Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC) found in its annual press freedom report on Yemen that the 131 violations against the press last year was almost double the number in 2006. WJWC says the increase can be explained by the authorities' new zeal for preventing information access and circulation.

Journalists who dared to cover protests and criticism of the authorities were targeted, even more so than the protesters themselves. "It's obvious that the state's major concern was to blackout and ban circulation of information and events coverage rather than just trying this press facility or that reporter," says WJWC.

WJWC says a freedom of information law that insures "suitable and secure channels" for accessing info and possessing press facilities is urgently needed.

Check out the full report here, including details on each of the violations:, and visit the WJWC website:

(15 January 2008)

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