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January 04, 2005



More about Yemen here:



I was in Yemen during the "al-Khaiwani Crisis," as it was/is called, this fall. While I was there, I met with a lot of people from the Journalists' Syndicate, as they were in the midst of preparing an official response to the case and, more generally, the erosion of civil liberties that it represents.

The most pressing theme in all of my interviews, as well as in Syndicate press releases on the issue (e.g. a critique that they were willing and, at least for the moment, able to commit to paper) was the fact that the office of the presidency is not distinct from the judiciary. Under those conditions, most journalists can't see how their rights can be guaranteed by anything more than Presidential fiat. In the words of the Syndicate, "it is truly a matter of mockery or illusion to even think that what Al-Khaiwani – and in fact the whole press community- has been going through is an outcome of an independent judiciary."

Press freedoms are not the only casualty of this interconnectedness. Until this is changed in Yemen, journalists (and other citizens) have no real legal recourse, and constitutional guarantees are comparatively meaningless.

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