Journalism in Yemen: A Job Fraught With Challenges and Risks

Sheba Intelligence | 2023-10-17 06:07 PM


The ordeal of Yemeni journalists has continued since the breakout of the civil war in 2015. As the political and military conflict lingers, the suffering of media people worsens. The Qatar-financed Balqees TV channel laid off several Yemeni journalists early this year. Lately, the UAE-supported Al-Ghad Al-Mushreq TV channel notified its staff, mostly Yemenis, that it will stop operating by the end of this year. This matter will create considerable hardship for these journalists and their families.


Job loss is not the only suffering Yemeni journalists have faced over the past years. They have also experienced oppression by the warring sides. On Monday, the Court of First Instance in government-controlled Marib issued compulsory summons orders to three Yemen journalists accused of defaming the head of the Supreme Court. The journalists work for Al-Masdar Online, a Yemeni news website. The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate described the court’s move as an attempt to silence the press.


Journalist Ahmed Maher has been in prison in Aden without trial since he was detained a year ago by the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council. The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate condemned the torture of Maher at the hands of the STC militants who forced him to confess to crimes he did not commit. The Syndicate said, “The unjustified postponement of Maher’s trial and keeping him in prison under abnormal detention conditions confirms the politically motivated targeting of an unarmed journalist.”


In Sanaa, the Houthi group has been detaining journalist Nabil Al-Sadawi for over eight years, and he has been subjected to an “unfair trial”, according to Amnesty International (AI). The AI said, “The Houthi authorities continue to use repressive methods to restrict freedom of expression and media and silence the voices of peaceful opposition in the areas under their control.”


The headquarters of the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate in Sanaa and Aden are under the control of the defacto authorities, the Houthis in Sanaa and separatists in Aden.


The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate documented 40 cases of violations against press and media freedoms in Yemen during the first half of this year. The violations include threats and incitement, trials, attacks, confiscation of property, suspension of salaries, refusal to implement judicial orders, and other cases. According to the Syndicate, the Houthis committed 55% of the violations, while government authorities committed 45%.


Five journalists are still detained, three with the Houthi group: Wahid Al-Sufi, Nabil Al-Sadawi, and Fahd Al-Arhabi. The STC detains journalist Ahmed Maher, while journalist Mohammed Al-Muqri has been in Al-Qaeda custody since 2015.


Last year, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate reported that  49 Yemeni media members had been murdered since 2011. According to Reporters Without Borders’ global press freedom rankings, Yemen presently ranks 168 out of 180 countries. Reporters Without Borders saysfunding is provided to media outlets loyal to the authorities, businessmen, religious leaders, or politicians. Journalists without affiliation with political and military groups find it difficult to exercise their jobs.