The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is concerned about a proposed bill governing the Yemeni press syndicate, or journalists' union. The bill, which Parliament is scheduled to debate within the next few days, contains several articles that run counter to internationally accepted norms of free speech.
CPJ has seen a copy of the proposed legislation, which was published in the independent daily Al-Ayyam. One of the articles stipulates that journalists would be forced to join the syndicate in order to legally practice journalism in Yemen. Another article requires newspapers and other media outlets to contribute 3 percent of their advertising revenue to support the syndicate's activities.
Your Excellency, journalists should not be compelled to join an organization in order to practice their profession. Journalists are citizens utilizing the media as a means to practice their right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under Yemen's Constitution. Placing such restrictions on journalists limits the ability of Yemen's citizens to freely disseminate and receive information. International legal decisions have affirmed this principle. >br>
As an independent organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide, CPJ urges you to speak against this bill, which only hinders the media's ability to practice their profession freely. We urge you to do everything within your power to see that this bill does not become law.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.
Ann K. Cooper