Freedom of the Press 2009 - Yemen
|Publication Date||1 May 2009|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2009 - Yemen, 1 May 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b2741ee2.html [accessed 30 January 2015]|
Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 26 (of 30)
Political Environment: 31 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 22 (of 30)
Total Score: 79 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.
The rights to freedom of expression and a free press are guaranteed under Article 41 of the constitution, but only "within the limits of the law." These rights are not respected in practice. Article 103 of the 1990 Press and Publications Law prohibits journalists from criticizing the head of state or publishing material that undermines public morality, prejudices the dignity of individuals by smears and defamation, or distorts the image of Yemeni, Arab, or Islamic heritage. In June, journalist Abdel Karim al-Khaiwani was sentenced to six years in prison for critical writings against the government, though he received a presidential pardon in September.
The government tightly controls licensing for newspapers and magazines. Newspapers must apply annually for license renewal, and preferential treatment is given to progovernment outlets. The Ministry of Information (MOI) cancelled the license of the newspaper Al-Wasat in April for allegedly publishing "materials prohibited by law and against national unity."
The government exerts editorial influence over broadcast media by selecting items that are to be covered during newscasts.
Despite the government's denials, official censorship does occur. Moreover, fear and intimidation serves to perpetuate the widespread practice of self-censorship among journalists and media owners.
Throughout the year, journalists were fined, arrested, imprisoned, abducted, threatened, subjected to home and office raids, and prevented from reporting on a spectrum of issues and events. The pattern of impunity for crimes committed against journalists continued, as there was no progress in several high-profile cases from previous years.
There are nine government-controlled, 50 independent, and 30 party-affiliated newspapers in Yemen. The government maintained its monopoly on broadcast media, with two television channels and two national and four regional radio channels.
The MOI exerts further influence over the print media by controlling nearly all printing presses within the country and manipulating advertising subsidies.
Approximately 1.4 percent of the population regularly accessed the internet during 2008. The government carries out extensive blocking and filtering of the internet within the country. Websites with religious, "immoral," or opposition political content are blocked most frequently. The country's two internet service providers are government controlled and use commercially available filtering technology. In June, Lu'ai al-Mu'ayyad, editor of the website yemenhurr.net, was arrested for publishing critical reports on the conflict between government forces and Zaydi Muslim insurgents in the northern region of Saada.