Calls for More Free Press Climate in Yemen

Over fifty journalists gathered in a webinar to discuss the dire situation and challenges faced by journalists while carrying out their work in various regions of Yemen. These challenges included killings, arrests, torture, interrogations, and unlawful trials.

During the webinar organized by the Media Freedom Observatory on World Press Freedom Day, journalists called for respecting media freedom and putting an end to the ongoing abuses against journalists and media workers. These abuses have persisted for the past ten years without holding the perpetrators accountable.

In the opening of the webinar, Mustafa Nasir, the head of the Studies & Economic Media Center (SEMC), provided a detailed account of the various violations committed by the Houthi group against journalists and media outlets. These violations included arrests, torture, intimidation, surveillance, summoning to intelligence agencies, recruitment of some journalists to work for the group, as well as raiding and looting the equipment of local media outlets and offices affiliated with foreign TV channels. Consequently, these areas have become devoid of partisan and independent media.

Female journalist Samia Al-Aghbari addressed several challenges faced by women journalists, including arrests, verbal and physical assaults, harassment, cyberbullying, and restrictions on their mobility and travel. According to her, these challenges are exacerbated by prevailing social norms and traditions that limit the perspective of women. As a result, many female journalists have either chosen to quit working or have remained silent out of concerns for their safety.

Journalist Nashwan Al-Othmani discussed the challenges and obstacles faced by journalists in areas controlled by the Yemeni government. These challenges ranged from censorship to various restrictions, including the requirement of obtaining prior licenses, which makes it difficult for journalists to carry out their work. Al-Othmani added, “Even though the media climate in government-controlled areas may seem bleak, it is still preferable compared to the regions under the control of the Houthi group, which the United States considers a terrorist organization.”

Moreover, a short video was presented during the webinar, summarizing the reality and extent of challenges, restrictions, cyberbullying, and harassment faced by journalists and media outlets in Yemen.

The Media Freedom Observatory is a monitoring and information platform dedicated to promoting freedom of expression in Yemen. The Observatory works to document and analyze violations against journalists, advocate for their rights, and raise awareness about the importance of a free and independent media.