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Concern over government article admonishing Yemeni journalist

Khaled al-Hammadi, 2011 CJFE International Press Freedom Award recipient
Khaled al-Hammadi, 2011 CJFE International Press Freedom Award recipient


(CJFE/IFEX) - 1 February 2013 - The following is a letter written by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) to Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi concerning journalist Khaled al-Hammadi, one of CJFE's International Press Freedom Award winners in 2011.

Your Excellency,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is very concerned about an article admonishing veteran journalist Khaled al-Hammadi published on the website of Yemen's Ministry of Defense on January 8, 2013, and then reprinted in a number of government-supported newspapers and websites.

The Ministry's article was issued following al-Hammadi's piece in the London-based daily Al-Quds Alarabi observing the appointment of President Hadi's family members to 180 military positions. CJFE upholds the Ministry's right to respond to al-Hammadi's piece, but also defends his right to free expression without risking negative repercussions.

Indeed, al-Hammadi has reported that he appears to have been placed under surveillance by military personnel and because of well-placed fears for his safety has had to resort to security measures to protect himself.

We regard al-Hammadi as a courageous and principled journalist and our organization recognised him with the 2011 CJFE International Press Freedom Award for his intrepid, ethical and committed journalism.

CJFE recognises the positive strides that the Hadi administration has taken since its election in February 2012. We commend the President's establishment of a committee to investigate human rights violations and his renewed openness to international dialogue; nevertheless, we are concerned by the government's repeated interferences over the past year with journalists' work that have been documented by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

CJFE defends freedom of expression as a fundamental human right and as essential to maintaining a healthy civil society. We strongly urge the Yemeni government to ensure protection for all citizens' rights to free expression, and to ensure that any response to coverage by the media is handled with care and a recognition of the influence that governments wield.

We thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Annie Game, Executive Director of CJFE/IFEX

Cc: H.E. Tom MacDonald, Ambassador of Canada to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain and Oman
H.E. Khaled Mahfoodh Abdulla Bahah, Ambassador of Yemen to Canada
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

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