WJWC records 115 attacks and hostile acts against journalists in first half of 2017

A total of 115 attacks and other hostile acts were committed against journalists in the first half of 2017 simply for doing their jobs, according to the semi-annual report compiled by Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC), the pro-journalist non-governmental organization in Yemen.

The monitoring data collected by WJWC shows five journalists and media workers lost their lives doing their work since the beginning of 2017 until the end of June.

Between 2014 and the end of June 2017, about 825 violations of press freedom were committed. “This is a record number,” WJWC comments, pointing out that 26 journalists and media professionals lost their lives during the same period as well.

The violations of press freedom in the first half of 2017 took many forms, ranging from summons and trials (38 cases- 33.04%) to abduction, arrest and detention (24 cases- 20.86%), assault (9 cases -7.82%), torture (7 cases- 6,08%), arbitrary dismissal (7 cases- 6.08%), murder (5 cases- 4.34%), injury (5 cases - 4.34%) threat and incitement (5 cases - 4.34%), and etc.

The governorate of Sana'a ranked first in the number of violations in which over seventy violent incidents took place, accounting for 62.6%, followed by Aden governorate with 19 cases (16.52%), while Taiz, Yemen’s largest city in terms of population, ranked third with 15 cases or 13.04 percent of the total number. For other provinces like Marib, Hodeidah and Shabwa, nine cases of violations took place during the same period focused on by the report.

 

There has been a marked decrease in the number of violations of press freedom starting with the prosecution of journalists who were summoned to courts controlled by militias in Sana’a through issuing death sentence against journalist Yahya Abd al-Raqib al-Jubaihi on trumped-up charges.

Press freedoms are at their worst ever since the coup carried out by the Houthi militia and forces loyal to deposed president Saleh in September 21, 2014, the organization said in its mid-2017 report, noting that journalists and different media outlets have become an open target for militias,".

Women Journalists Without Chains also reported that the Houthi militia and its close ally, Saleh’s forces, have been the top two most dangerous parties for journalists so far, indicating that among violators are also other parties and armed groups, i.e. the pro-government troops, UAE-backed security belt forces in Aden, the armed group of Abu al-Abbas in Taiz and al-Qaeda.

Journalists and media workers during the first half of this year have been increasingly abused by parties including members of the government’s security forces as well as various non-state actors and religious conservatives such as Aden’s security belt forces, advocates for the secession of the south and the armed group of Abu al-Abbas backed by the UAE, explained the organization in the report.

WJWC warned of the threats facing women journalists who are accused of infidelity and atheism, saying that these charges are a dangerous trend especially since they have already begun to increase dramatically against men and women journalists alike, as happened to journalist Hanan Nasser, who was accused of infidelity and atheism.

The report noted that journalists are currently facing life-threatening risks that make them more vulnerable to targeting by all parties to the conflict, mainly by Saleh-Houthi militias, terrorist groups and forces loyal to the legitimate government, which have committed various violations against journalists and media personnel, including murder, arrest, abduction, threat, attack and others.

According to WJWC, 17 out of 18 journalists are still held captive by the coup d'état’s militias, where they are being subjected to the worst forms of torture and suffering from serious health conditions, while one journalist has been detained by al-Qaeda in Hadhramaut.

The organization focused also on the case of journalist Yahya Abdulraqeeb Al-Jubaihi who was sentenced to death for allegedly communicating with Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces, in an attempt by the coup militia to impose a state of fear on society.

Women Journalists Without Chains stressed the need to protect journalists and media workers covering armed conflicts from attacks and hostile acts in accordance with international humanitarian law, according to which journalists are categorized as civilians, provided they do not participate directly in hostilities.

It called on all international and human rights organizations, the world’s free people and supporters of freedoms and rights, especially the United Nations and the International Federation of Journalists, to exert pressure on the Houthi militia to release kidnapped journalists before going into any peace plan.

The organization sees doing so is essential to test the seriousness of the coup’s alliance in regard with its commitment to the conditions of peace, i.e. the full compliance with the Security Council resolutions and the outcomes of comprehensive national dialogue.

WJWC emphasized the importance of investigation into all attacks and hostile acts against journalists, and of punishing parties and individuals standing behind these violations, as they in the first place target freedom and the right of people to knowledge and to express their opinions and beliefs.

Women Journalists Without Chains also urged media outlets and press organizations to train their employees in the field of occupational safety in order to contribute to maintaining the safety of field journalists- who cover war, armed conflict and violence-, honing their skills and raising their awareness of the risks surrounding their work.

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