Yemen’s most prominent media watchdog, the Freedom Foundation hosted an event in Sana’a to mark the publication of its 2013 Media Freedom report and announce the nominee of its 2013 Media Press Freedom award.
Yemen Human Rights Minister, Hooriah Mashour, a long-time supporter of the organization and herself former rights activist, attended the ceremony, keen to show a united front. She reminded the audience that much remains to be done in Yemen, bearing in mind that over 60% of the population lives below the poverty line. She stressed on the importance of humanitarian work, stating that the government has a duty of support toward the most vulnerable: women and children.
Speaking on media freedom and recent reports pointing to a sharp increase in attacks against journalists, Minister Mashour warned that for Yemen to fulfil its democratic aspirations, Yemen’s censorship culture would have to come to an end. The minister called on actors in Yemen, either local or international to abide by their pledge by assisting and support the impoverished nation as it pushes toward democratic reforms.
EU Ambassador to Yemen, Bettina Muscheidt, who attended the ceremony, noted that freedom of the press is the most basic and inherent right in any democratic society, adding that Yemen should strive to promote a culture of transparency and accountability on order for its people to truly strive and accomplish change.
George Abu Zuluf , Yemen, Resident Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations - pointed out that while the report of the Freedom Foundation on media freedom clearly showed a decline in the number of violations against journalists in comparison to last year, the number of physical assaults worried him. He called on the government to better safeguard and protect its media.
For his part, Khaled Al Hammadi , founder and president of the Freedom Foundation hailed all fellow journalists and activists for their dedication and tireless work in Yemen. He added that his group’s work had become a respected and trusted source of information for national and international entities.
There have been a reported 282 press freedom violations in 2013, as opposed to 432 in 2012. However, the number of murders (12) and abductions (13) remain a source of great concerns as they underscore a dangerous trend.
Bari Taher, Noor Mohammad Mansour and Gen. Mohammad Ali were presented with the Press Freedom Award