DESPITE PROGRESS, ELECTIONS MARRED BY MEDIA FREEDOM VIOLATIONS
The "government has spared no effort to hinder the nascent democratic experiment in Yemen," concludes HRinfo. It highlights the blocking of five websites during the electoral campaign, while independent and opposition journalists were also subject to various forms of harassment. For example, Mohamed Sadiq Al-Adeny, a human rights activist and journalist, was sentenced to three years in prison and a heavy fine after publishing an article in August criticising the form of democracy practiced by the president, as well as related corruption. Among other violations, security forces in Aden confiscated almost 1,000 copies of the opposition "Al-Tagheir" newspaper three days before the vote.
Meanwhile, EOHR expresses concerns about media coverage of the elections. It cites a report by the Human Rights Information and Training Center and International Media Support which concluded that television coverage of the campaign was one-sided in favour of the incumbent, while raising similar concerns about state-owned newspapers.
Despite the media freedom violations, EOHR reports "general progress towards making the election process more democratic." For the first time, the public media covered the rallies of all presidential candidates. "To have an opposition leader criticise the government and the president himself on public TV and radio is a very advanced and progressive step forward," says Mohammed Assadi, a journalist with the "Yemen Mirror".
Visit these links:
- EOHR: http://eohr.org/press/2006/pr1106-2.shtml
- HRinfo: http://www.hrinfo.net/en/reports/2006/pr0927.shtml
- "Yemen Mirror": http://www.yemenmirror.com/