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IFJ calls for an end to the harassment of journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - 3 January 2012 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the harassment and intimidation of journalists at the government-owned and army-controlled 26 September newspaper, and wrote to Yemen's Vice-President Abdu Raboo Mansour Hadi calling on him to order an end to the threats against these journalists.

In his letter, IFJ President Jim Boumelha wrote "We support our member union in Yemen, the Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate, in its request that the new political situation warrants that the status of the newspaper is opened up to a root-and-branch review, including changes to its management structure and the introduction of legal and editorial rights."

Journalists at the 26 September newspaper have recently faced arbitrary dismissals and threats of punishment, including jail, for opposing financial and administrative corruption at the newspaper, and went on strike, demanding major changes to the newspaper's future status.

According to the IFJ member union, the Yemeni Information Committee in the Department of Moral Guidance issued a road map to resolve this issue, starting with the removal of General Ali Hassan al- Shater as chief editor of the newspaper, and establishing a committee to review the future of the publication and root out corruption and mismanagement.

The IFJ says that such moves "could be a useful step to find a negotiated settlement and establish a firm foundation for the future of the newspaper" and joined its affiliate in calling for a negotiated settlement to the dispute.

"We are confident that these journalists and media workers are doing their best to defend the interest and future of the publication and are acting in the public interest to preserve its editorial qualities.

"We cannot therefore accept that they should be intimidated and threatened with jail, or attacked by thugs under order from your Ministry of Defence. These journalists are our members and we deem your government to be responsible for their safety and security. Their colleagues, the world over, will not stand by and stay silent if they suffer any harm," added Boumelha.

In a separate development, YJS former president, Naser Taha Mustafa has been the target of death threats linked to his journalistic work, which the IFJ strongly condemned. ''It is simply unacceptable that Naser Taha Mustafa, a respected editor and former YJS president should be threatened for his writings", said Boumelha.

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