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Until February 2011, the media was largely controlled by a government that tolerated little criticism. The current press law dates from 1990. A draft reform, under discussion for several years, has been strongly criticised by media workers as restrictive. It aims to ban any investigation deemed to undermine Yemen’s national security, national unity or foreign relations. It would provide for penalties up to six years’ imprisonment for anyone found to have violated press law.
In 2009, the authorities increased their stranglehold on the media to ensure its silence on military offensives in the north and south of the country. In May that year, the information ministry, invoking national security, banned the publication of eight independent newspapers accused of promoting separatism.
In response to the popular uprising calling for a democratic government, President Saleh toughened the measures already in place. The year 2011 has been a particularly dangerous one for journalists and the media, which were subjected to abuses of all kinds – murder, kidnapping, threats, ransacking of premises, seizure of copies, withdrawal of accreditation.
At a time when the international community is losing interest in Yemen, abuses directed against journalists and the civilian population go on unpunished.
Updated 1 September 2011
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