Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:56 GMT

U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 - Yemen

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1994
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 - Yemen, 30 January 1994, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa5018.html [accessed 17 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
 

The Republic of Yemen was proclaimed in 1990 with the unification of the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). The Constitution provides for a Parliament elected by universal suffrage and a five-member Presidential Council elected by the Parliament whose chairman serves as Head of State. Yemen held its first parliamentary elections on April 27. They were monitored by domestic and foreign observers and were generally held to be free and open. They resulted in a 301-member Parliament, with the General People's Congress (GPC), the party of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, forming a coalition government with the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) and Islaah, the Tribal/Islamic Grouping for Reform. Tribal leaders in the north and east continue to hold considerable power over large amounts of territory based on their traditional prerogatives. Yemen has been in the midst of a political crisis since August 1993 which has paralyzed many government activities and all policymaking.

An extensive state-security apparatus, the Political Security Organization (PSO), has replaced the National Security Organization (NSO). Unlike the NSO, the PSO is independent of the Interior Ministry and reports directly to the President. Its officers retain broad discretion over perceived national security issues and, despite constitutional prohibitions, routinely detain citizens for questioning, frequently mistreat detainees, monitor personal activities, and search homes.

Yemen is a poor country in which agriculture and oil dominate the economy. Remittances from Yemeni workers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, formerly an important source of hard currency, declined significantly in the aftermath of the Gulf war, and aid from the Gulf states has almost ended. After unification, the Marxist economy in the south was liberalized, but former PDRY state institutions remain significant.

With the holding of free parliamentary elections and less repression of civil liberties such as freedom of the press, there were some gains in the human rights situation in 1993. Nevetheless, significant restrictions remained. Major problems included arbitrary detention, torture and abuse of prisoners, and widespread discrimination based on sex, race, and religion.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Political and extrajudicial violence remains part of the Yemeni political scene. Although there were a number of allegations of political killings in 1993, none has so far been substantiated.

b. Disappearance

As in 1992, there were occasional reports of Yemenis disappearing following detention by the security forces. Most such detainees were eventually released. Most reports about disappeared persons were related to former members of the National Democratic Front (NDF), which waged a guerrilla war against the YAR from the mid-1970's through the early 1980's. Families of an estimated 200 to 300 persons who disappeared in the former PDRY prior to unification in 1990 have been unable to obtain any information from the Government about the fate of their relatives. The vast majority of these persons are thought to have been killed while in the custody of PDRY state security officials.

In a separate case, a credible source reported eight suspects in the Aden bombing of the Gold Mohur Hotel, in which two tourists died, were abducted and possibly killed by the YSP. The Government reported the eight men had escaped.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution proscribes "physical punishment and degrading treatment." It is widely believed, however, that security officials resort with impunity to force or the threat of force to extract information from detainees. There continued to be reports in the Yemeni press alleging torture and mistreatment by prison officials. Amnesty International reports that at the beginning of 1993 at least 50 of the 1,000 persons arrested in antigovernment riots in December 1992 remained in detention. Some detainees were reportedly subjected to torture, including beatings and electric shocks. Credible reports indicate that Mansur Muhammad Ahmad Rajih, a writer and NDF activist, who remains imprisoned, has been subjected to torture throughout his incarceration. There was a credible report that a European tourist was detained and tortured in July.

There were no reported instances of amputation in 1993. In seven out of eight cases in which amputation penalties were imposed, the Yemeni Supreme Court refused to confirm the sentences and in several cases ordered the prisoners released upon a finding that their periods of incarceration, which ranged up to 10 years, were adequate punishment. The eighth case was still pending.

Substandard conditions in Yemeni prisons represent a threat to the health of inmates. Visitors from human rights organizations and local press reports have described inadequate food, medical, and sanitary facilities, and severe overcrowding. In the women's section of Sanaa central prison, prisoners were in some instances unable to obtain milk for their children who were incarcerated with them.

Although they are theoretically banned, shackles are still used in a number of Yemeni prisons. Mentally ill persons are occasionally shackled, as are those involved in "blood-money" cases, i.e., prisoners held until they can pay a specified amount of compensation to the family of someone they have killed, usually in a traffic accident.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Despite constitutional and other legal guarantees, there continued to be reports of arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention without charge. Moreover, relatives of accused persons are sometimes held while, in accordance with customary law, compensation for the victim or victim's relatives is negotiated. Under the law, persons arrested may not be detained for more than 24 hours without being brought before a court and formally charged. Upon arrest, a detainee has the right in theory to notify a person of his or her choice, but this right is seldom honored or is observed only upon payment of a bribe, especially in cases of arrests by security officials. While there are provisions for release on bail, arrested Yemenis more commonly have a close family member pledge surety for them. The accused has the right to hear the charges being brought and an opportunity to respond to those charges. A judge then decides whether the accused is to be held for trial or released. A detainee may not be required to answer questions without an attorney present.

Credible sources report that as many as 4,000 prisoners are held in Yemeni jails without documentation concerning their imprisonment. Most of these prisoners were moved to state prisons from outlying jails following unification and are held without a record of their sentences or why they were arrested. However, it has become customary for the Government to pardon between 500 and 700 prisoners each year at Eid Al Fitr, a religious holiday marking the end of the holy month of fasting, Ramadan; many of these are believed to be those held without charge.

A common ploy of Yemeni employers is to hire third-country nationals, often from the horn of Africa, and then, upon the expiration of their term of service, accuse them of theft and have them imprisoned in order to avoid paying their salary or ticket home.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

In accordance with an August 1991 decree, judicial systems have been unified at the Supreme Court level. The lower courts have not yet been merged and continue to function in their respective halves of the country. In the former YAR, there are two court systems: Shari'a (criminal and family) and commercial. The Shari'a courts are based on Islamic law and, viewed within their traditional Islamic context (e.g., no jury trials), are considered generally to be impartial. The judge actively questions witnesses. Attorneys are allowed to counsel their clients and may also address the court and examine witnesses.

In the commercial courts, defendants enjoy the right of appeal, and court sessions are generally open, although the Constitution permits the courts to hold closed sessions "for reasons of security or general morals." Foreign litigants in the commercial courts have frequently complained of biased rulings, and both Yemeni and non-Yemeni litigants maintain that tribal ties as well as outright bribery are often decisive in obtaining a favorable verdict. Former YAR state security courts were formally abolished after unification.

In the former PDRY there are three court systems: magistrate or divisional courts, provincial courts, and military courts. Magistrate's courts have jurisdiction over most criminal and traffic offenses, juvenile cases, family cases, housing and agrarian disputes, and minor civil matters. Provincial courts have jurisdiction over serious criminal cases involving the death sentence or long prison terms, inheritance cases, major civil claims, and appeals from magistrates' courts. Military courts have jurisdiction over crimes by members of the armed forces.

Yemen's judiciary is not fully independent. There are some "government" judges, i.e., judges who will return whatever verdict the Government desires. They operate generally at the lower court level. The Appellate and Supreme Courts are independent from the executive branch of government, though they are not free of corruption, even at the highest levels. Although the Shari'a and commercial courts in the former YAR are largely independent of the executive, judicial authorities have complained of executive branch interference in sensitive cases and of the continued existence of extrajudicial prisons maintained by some ministries.

The Government denies that it holds any political prisoners, although credible Yemeni sources dispute this. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have expressed concern about political opponents of the Government who were arrested in the former YAR and are still believed to be held in prison. All were suspected members of the NDF; no confirmed figure is available on their number. Most NDF prisoners appear to qualify as political prisoners on the grounds that they did not receive fair trials. Some NDF members, arrested before 1985, are reportedly still being held despite a general amnesty declared in 1985 for all former NDF members.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

Despite constitutional guarantees against such interference, security forces routinely search homes, monitor telephones, read personal mail, and otherwise intrude into personal matters, alleging security concerns.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The new Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press "within the limits of the law." Yemenis typically engage in uninhibited discussions of both domestic and foreign policies in qat (a leaf that acts as mild stimulant which many Yemenis chew) sessions, an institution deeply ingrained in Yemeni life. However, some Yemenis remain cautious in exercising their freedom of speech, believing that they may experience difficulty if security agents overhear them criticizing particular government leaders.

Since unification Yemen has enjoyed greater press freedom. In addition to several major newspapers owned by the Government, some 94 papers have been registered, although only about 60 are being published, some of them on an irregular basis. These papers represent a wide spectrum of political opinion and frequently criticize government policies and leaders by name. In one striking case in 1993, the editor of the only English weekly published several articles accusing President Saleh of cronyism. The Government charged the editor with "antigovernment" slander, but the court threw out the Government's case, an action that the press hailed as a victory for freedom of the press. It remains to be seen what effect this will have on the press, which is widely seen as practicing self-censorship, particularly on sensitive issues such as Yemen's policies during the Gulf crisis and Yemeni-Saudi relations.

The Ministry of Information continues to subsidize most newspapers, which gives the Government added control over the print media. The Government has on occasion prevented the distribution of foreign press articles deemed to be critical. Articles and photos deemed salacious are forbidden. Although there are no banned publications in Yemen, either foreign or domestic, the Government has been known to effectively restrict certain publications by imposing excessive duties or by other indirect means. For example, a credible source alleged that the high tariffs on newsprint are applied unevenly, with lower tariffs granted to "government-friendly" newspapers.

The Ministry of Information owns and operates Yemen's radio and television stations. News broadcasts appear to be closely controlled by the Government and virtually never contain reports critical of the Government. However, Yemen's two television channels regularly broadcast uncensored parliamentary sessions even though some speakers criticize government policies.

Informational materials carried by both foreigners and Yemenis are subject to inspection at customs points, and those of a religious, political, or pornographic nature are often confiscated. Self-censorship is sometimes practiced at Sanaa University, where professors and senior administrators require a security clearance before being hired. However, there have been no recent reports of government interference in teaching programs or curriculum development. Ali Abdul-Fattah Hashim, a writer and teacher, remains in prison after being arrested in April 1992 on charges of apostasy for promoting "heretical" teachings.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Organizations must register with the Ministry of Social Security and Social Affairs, but licensing is usually routine. Yemeni citizens have a right to demonstrate peacefully and exercise it. Citizens continue to demonstrate regularly in front of the President's office, Parliament, and provincial government offices to voice their views on domestic issues.

c. Freedom of Religion

Islam is the state religion, and there are restrictions on the practice of other religions. Most Yemenis are Muslims, either members of the Zaydi Sect, which is a form of Shi'ism, or followers of the Shafi'i Sunni School of Islamic law. Islamic associations with ties to pan-Islamic organizations enjoy a degree of freedom. The right of these organizations to run schools, however, is restricted in that they must submit to government oversight and regulation.

Most of the once sizable Yemeni Jewish population has emigrated; about 500 Jews remain, mostly scattered in northern rural areas. There are no formal synagogues, but services are routinely held in private homes. Despite occasional hindrances, the Government has allowed contact with foreign Jewish groups and has permitted these groups to build and operate schools and ritual baths in the two main centers of Jewish population, as well as assist Jews wishing to emigrate from Yemen in obtaining travel documents and tickets.

Except for several families in Aden, there are no indigenous Yemeni Christians. Foreign Christians throughout Yemen and the Indian-origin Christian community of Aden regularly conduct services. While there are no churches in the former YAR, there are Christian churches and a Hindu temple in Aden. Foreign clergy may not proselytize but are present in Yemen, often teaching or working in social services or health care. By religious convention, Muslims may not convert to other religions.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Yemeni citizens enjoy freedom of travel within Yemen, although there are many checkpoints on major roads. Foreigners are required to obtain permits for travel outside the capital, but the regulations are not strictly enforced and allow the Government to respond more quickly in case of need. Permission for most tourist travel is easily obtainable through travel agencies, and there are no reports of permission being denied.

Most Yemenis are able to travel abroad freely and to emigrate. In contrast to 1992, Yemeni Jews are now able to emigrate with relatively little hindrance. The Government has taken the stand that Yemeni Jews, like all Yemenis, are entitled to passports and that if they follow the prescribed procedures they will be issued travel documents. This policy is being implemented in practice.

For most Yemenis, obtaining passports is a relatively simple matter. Exit permit procedures have been simplified, and permits are generally available at the airport. However, young males who have not yet completed their military service sometimes are prevented from traveling abroad. Moreover, women seeking exit visas are often asked to prove that male relatives do not object to their travel. There have been no reports of Yemenis being denied the right to return.

Following a dramatic increase in the number of refugees (primarily from Horn of Africa countries) in 1992 from about 10,000 to over 60,000, the influx in 1993 was insignificant. There are no known cases of refugees being denied asylum, and there were no reports of forced repatriation. Many of the refugees have family or tribal ties to Yemen and have found work in Yemen. The Government has offered Somalis without ethnic affiliation to Yemen asylum under the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Government closely monitors all political activity by refugees. Many of the Palestinians who arrived in Yemen from Lebanon in 1982-83 have departed; the remainder live in camps near Sanaa and Aden and are closely watched by the security services. Other Palestinians are employed, often as teachers or business people, and are not subject to significant restrictions on their freedom of movement.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

The right of the citizens of Yemen to change their government was successfully tested – at least to some degree – by the holding of the new Republic's first elections in April in which 301 members of Parliament were chosen and which were generally judged to be free and open. All the top leaders of the former YAR and PDRY have remained in power after unification.

The Constitution gives broad powers to the Parliament: these include electing the Presidential Council, withdrawing confidence from the Government, questioning the Prime Minister and other Ministers, ratifying international agreements, and approving the budget. In its initial sessions, the Parliament vetoed some government-sponsored bills and requested modifications in others. Parliament has shown less independence on issues of substance, as in the debates over constitutional amendments. Implementation of laws passed by the Parliament has been uneven as local ministry and other officials retain considerable discretion in interpreting and enforcing the law.

A five-member Presidential Council with broad executive powers has functioned since unification. Its chairman is the former YAR President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and its Vice Chairman, the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) Secretary General, Ali Salem al-Bidh. The Council's executive powers include the right to pass legislation by decree when the Parliament is not in session. Laws passed by decree must be submitted for review by the Parliament within 30 days. The Council appointed Haydar Abu Bakr al-Attas Prime Minister in May 1990, and he formed a government now comprised of 30 ministries, divided among the three coalition members.

The new Constitution permits political parties, although by law their programs may not oppose the Islamic religion or the goals of the Yemeni revolution or violate Yemeni international commitments. Under the law, government financial support must be given to recognized political parties, and parties may establish their own newspapers. Even before unification, while technically illegal in both the YAR and the PDRY, new political parties began to organize. There are currently 54 political parties in Yemen, but until now none has registered in accordance with the 1991 political parties law.

Women may vote and hold office by law, although this right is limited in practice by cultural and religious traditions. Two members of the 301-member Parliament are women, and few women hold senior leadership positions in the Government or political parties.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

There are two nongovernmental human rights organizations: The Yemeni Human Rights Organization, headquartered in Sanaa, and The Yemeni Organization for the Defense of Liberties and Human Rights, based in Aden. A government-sanctioned human rights organization also exists as a committee of the Parliament. It has held several meetings and has hosted an international children's rights conference but has done little else of substance.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

Although the constitution prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, origin, language, occupation, social status, or religious belief, in practice various forms of discrimination exist.

Women

Although the Constitution provides for equality of the sexes, significant restrictions on women are imposed by tradition and law. Under current law, polygyny is allowed, husbands may divorce their wives without justifying their actions before the court, and, in case of divorce, both the family home and the children are often awarded to the husband. Until this year, the relatively progressive family law from the south was still applied in Aden. Earlier this year, however, a presidential decree containing more restrictive regulations against women was issued. Since it has never been ratified by Parliament, it technically is not law. A prominent lawyer in Aden, however, cites from personal experience before the courts their enforcement of the more restrictive regulations.

The institution of dowry payments is widespread. The amount of payments has continued to increase; government efforts at limiting their size have been ineffective, due to societal restraints. Societal pressures also often force women to defer to the guidance of male colleagues and the general supervision of male relatives as, for example, in seeking to travel abroad.

Education of women in significant numbers began in the YAR only at the end of the civil war in 1970, although education of women in the PDRY was more advanced. It is conservatively estimated that 80 percent of Yemeni women are illiterate (some estimates range as high as 95 percent), compared to 40 to 50 percent of all men. In Aden, women work in midlevel jobs in several ministries and in banks and other businesses. Yemen's largest factory group employs women on the same pay scale as men, and women have risen through the ranks to lower management positions. There are female judges and lawyers in Aden and lesser numbers in the north. The Ministry of Justice has only one female employee.

Wife beating and other physical abuse of women does occur in Yemeni families. Statistics on wife beating are unavailable. Although there is little public discussion of this matter, it has received increasing attention in the press. The female victim usually turns to a male relative to pressure the perpetrator to stop the abuse; she may seek a legal remedy, but social traditions usually compel women and their male relatives to seek mediation and keep the matter within the extended family.

There is a government-sponsored women's association which promotes female education and civic responsibilities.

Children

The Yemeni Government claims to be fully committed to protecting children's rights and hosted an international children's rights seminar in 1993. In the face of continued government preoccupation with the political crisis, however, defense of children's rights is a low priority. Yemen is an extremely impoverished nation and cannot provide all the health, education, and welfare benefits children enjoy in more developed countries. There is, however, a system of universal education for children, as well as Government health clinics.

Child marriage remains common in rural areas. A form of female genital mutilation, clitorectomy, is practiced in the Tihama Red Sea coastal region and in the region of the Hadhramaut along the Gulf of Aden, especially among Yemenis of African origin. The extent of the practice is unknown. While some government health workers in the Tihama actively discourage clitorectomy, there is no government directive or guidance against the practice. Conservative social mores effectively prevent public discussion or government acknowledgment of the practice.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Yemenis with a non-Yemeni parent (so-called muwalladin) face discrimination. For example, the Constitution requires that members of the Presidential Council be "born of Yemeni parents." Sanaa University, administered by the Government, applies the same restriction when hiring teaching and senior administrative staff, as does Yemen's military academy in selecting cadets. However, discrimination against muwalladin is not universal; many senior government officials, including ministers, are muwalladin. Naturalization of the non-Yemeni parent is enough to overcome the "Yemeni parents" requirement. Another smaller group known as Akhdam, the descendants of ancient Ethiopian occupiers who later became slaves, also faces persistent social discrimination.

Religious minorities

Apart from several Adeni Christian families and 20-30 underground Bahais in the north, Jews are Yemen's only indigenous religious minority. By custom, non-Muslims are not permitted to carry weapons, traditionally carried by Muslim Yemenis. With the recent lifting of travel restrictions, the most blatant form of discrimination against Jews has been removed. More subtle forms of discrimination, such as lack of political and economic opportunities, and the inability of Jewish men to marry outside the Jewish community, remain. Such discrimination is usually the result of custom rather than government policy, however.

People with Disabilities

Disabled persons suffer discrimination based on traditional social prejudices against mental and physical handicaps. Persons with such handicaps are often isolated and are not given equal opportunity for education or employment. As noted in Section 1.c., mentally ill persons are occasionally shackled. The Government has not enacted legislation or otherwise mandated accessibility for the disabled.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

As United Yemen has not yet enacted a new labor code, the labor codes for the former YAR and PDRY remain in effect for their respective parts of the country. In both the YAR and PDRY, labor unions were closely controlled, if not actually organized, by the respective ruling parties.

Under the YAR Labor Code, a union may be set up by 100 or more workers upon application to and approval by the Government. The Code prescribes a single union system with one union committee per enterprise, one union branch per locality, one general union per economic sector, and one national umbrella organization, which was the Yemeni Trade Union Confederation.

Public servants, employees, and manual workers employed in the state administration, as well as some categories of farm workers, are excluded from union membership. Under the YAR Labor Code, the Council of Ministers may dissolve trade unions without judicial action. The Code also prohibits unions from engaging in political activity. Financial records are subject to government oversight.

In the PDRY, the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), the only labor association, was under close Yemeni Socialist Party control. The YAR and PDRY Labor Confederations merged in 1990, forming the Yemeni Confederation of Labor Unions (YCLU). The YCLU is affiliated with the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions and the formerly Soviet-controlled World Federation of Trade Unions.

In the YAR, labor-related legislation neither granted the right to strike nor outlawed strikes. No major strikes were held in 1993, in contrast with 1992. A general strike was called for in March, postponed until May, and finally dropped altogether after the Government agreed to substantial cost of living increases. Yemeni labor laws neither prohibit nor allow retribution against strikers. The International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee of Experts reminded the Government in March that numerous changes in the Labor Code were necessary to bring it into conformity with ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association. The Government informed the ILO in June that Article 39 of the Constitution, adopted following unification, guarantees to trade unions the right of organization, freedom of association, and political rights, which would be amplified in a new labor code.

b. The Right To Organize and Bargain Collectively

Although the YAR Labor Code calls for employers to treat workers collectively, it does not require collective bargaining. There are consequently no formal collective bargaining agreements now in force. Unions do negotiate wage settlements for their members and have often resorted to strikes or other actions to achieve their demands. According to the YAR Labor Code, collective agreements must be registered and may be unilaterally revoked by the Government if they do not conform to the security and economic interests of the country.

Neither the PDRY nor the YAR labor codes specifically prohibit antiunion discrimination. Therefore, employers are not found guilty of antiunion discrimination, nor are they required to reinstate workers fired for union activities. Such matters may be taken to labor courts, however, which are generally favorably disposed toward unions. The ILO's Committee of Experts again in 1993 urged the Government to adopt legislation protecting workers against antiunion discrimination.

Until a new labor code is passed, workers in the north enjoy limited protections under the YAR Labor Code. Workers in the former PDRY have practically no protection. In the former PDRY, the State, through the YSP-controlled unions, purported to represent the rights of the workers. There was no collective bargaining, and there were no nongovernmental bodies that addressed labor grievances.

There are no export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is forbidden by the Constitution, and there are no reports of its practice.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

There was no minimum age for employment of children in the YAR. Labor by minors aged 12 to 14 was regulated by the Labor Code. In the PDRY, the Labor Code prohibited the employment of children (defined as between 7 and 12 years of age) and regulated that of young persons (between 12 and 16 years of age), although these provisions were not rigorously enforced. Currently, apprentice employment of young persons aged 14 and older is permitted. This minimum age requirement is not enforced, and child labor is common throughout Yemen, particularly in rural areas. For the most part, it is sanctioned by family tradition, and it is not uncommon to see children working in workshops or stores. In the south, child labor often occurs on family, cooperative, and state farms.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

There was no established minimum wage in the YAR. In the former PDRY, the labor laws set a minimum wage which provided a worker a minimal standard of living. The prevailing daily wage for unskilled labor in Yemen allows a very modest standard of living for a worker with a family.

YAR legal codes prescribe a maximum 8-hour workday (6 hours during Ramadan), but some workshops operate 10- or 12-hour shifts without penalty. The YAR Labor Code does not prescribe the number of workdays, only that the maximum workweek consist of 48 hours. There is no provision for a 24-hour rest period. The PDRY Labor Code stipulates a 42-hour workweek. Government employees generally work a reduced workweek: 35 hours (6 hours a day, 6 days a week, with a 5-hour day on Thursdays). These provisions, however, are not widely enforced in either part of Yemen. The Ministry of Labor in the YAR investigated complaints of alleged violations and, if found valid, sought restitution from the employer.

Enforcement of the Labor Code is more prevalent against foreign employers of Yemeni workers. One foreign oil company was not permitted to require workers to shave; beards are usually forbidden on oil rigs to allow for the use of gas masks in the event of a blowout. Safety requirements are sometimes unenforceable because foreign companies do not have the freedom to discipline workers. Foreign companies have had labor conditions and size of work force unilaterally imposed on them by government ministries.

There is no legislation guaranteeing workers the right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued employment. YAR and PDRY legal codes did not effectively regulate working conditions and health hazards in the workplace, and this remains the case. In the past, the YAR government set general safety requirements for larger organizations but only occasionally checked compliance. There was legislation regulating conditions of labor in the PDRY, but there was no agency for effective enforcement.

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