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Newspaper banned; ARTICLE 19 condemns recurring attacks on free expression

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an ARTICLE 19 press release:

Yemen: Support the Freedom of Expression Movement

ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the recurring attacks against freedom of expression in Yemen and supports the local campaign for freedom of expression hosted by the Sisters' Arab Forum for Human Rights. In recent months, websites and newspapers have been blocked, and trails against Al-Share' newspaper and Editor Abdul-Kareem Al-Khaiwani have continued.

On March 4, the Ministry of Information ordered the ban on the newspaper Al-Sabah for allegedly "threatening the unity of Yemen and order". Authorities have also continued censoring websites the last of which was YemenPortal.net that had its original and alternative domain blocked earlier this year. Further severe restrictions on freedom of the press in particular is the continuation of the trials of the newspaper Al-Share' and of journalist Abdul-Kareem Al-Khaiwani. Al-Khaiwani is being tried before the Special Criminal Court on Terrorism where if convicted may face the death penalty.

"ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the ongoing severe restrictions imposed by the authorities. We call on the Yemeni government to honour its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the country acceded in 1987," said Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

ARTICLE 19 would also like to remind the Yemeni authorities of their commitment to protect human rights by adopting the National Reform Agenda in 2006, which complemented their obligation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which they ratified, as well as the Arab Charter on Human Rights.

We therefore call on the Yemeni government to:
- Immediately cancel judicial procedures initiated against Abdul-Kareem Al-Khaiwani before the Special Criminal Court on Terrorism.
- Immediately release from prison and cancel charges against media professionals and other individuals prosecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
- Put an end to all restrictive policies and practices that limit freedom of expression, such as banning journalists and newspapers from publication.
- Reform and reinforce the judiciary's independence to ensure its effectiveness, impartiality and independence.
- Extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to carry out a visit to the country.

- For in depth information about the situation of freedom of expression in Yemen check ARTICLE 19's report Yemen: Freedom of Expression in Peril available in English http://www.article19.org/pdfs/publications/yemen-foereport.pdf and in Arabic at http://www.article19.org/pdfs/publications/yemen-foereport-arabic.pdf.
- The report was made possible with the funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (N.E.D.)

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