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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04SANAA855 2004-04-13 09:53:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Sanaa
Cable title:  

HUMAN RIGHTS MINISTER ON THE HRR, TIP, AMNESTY

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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 000855 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR G/TIP, DRL FOR TAGGART, AND NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/11/2014
TAGS: PHUM SMIG ASEC ELAB KWMN KFRD PGOV YM KRIC HUMAN RIGHTS TRAFFICKING PERSONS
SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS MINISTER ON THE HRR, TIP, AMNESTY
INTERNATIONAL, RESPONSIBLE MEDIA AND HER PROPOSED TRIP TO
WASHINGTON

REF: A. SANAA 662


B. SANAA 611

C. SANAA 505

D. SANAA 472

E. SANAA 359

Classified By: Ambassador Edmund J. Hull for reasons 1.5 (b and d)



1. (c) Summary: On 4/10, Ambassador and Pol/Econ Chief met
with Minister of Human Rights Amat al-Alim al-Suswah at her
request to discuss the ROYG's response to the 2003 Human
Rights Report (HRR), additional ROYG actions to quantify and
combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP), the Amnesty
International (AI) delegation visit and her proposed trip to
Washington in May to accept an award and meet Department
officials and NGOs. Al-Suswah handed over new data from the
Ministry of Interior on cases of women and children being
trafficked and gave a progress report that reflects increased
cooperation within the ROYG on current investigations and
on-going or pending prosecutions; she was receptive to the
Ambassador's message not to punish the victims but the
persecutors. Ambassador and the Minister agreed that the
message to AI should reflect Yemen's progress on human rights
in tandem with increasing counter-terrorism cooperation and
security. Both were critical of inaccurate press reporting
and discussed their attempts at remedial action. Ambassador
provided a copy of the April 2004 Freedom House report on
Yemen. End summary.

TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN AND CHILDREN: INTERAGENCY COOPERATION,
ON-GOING INVESTIGATIONS, PROSECUTIONS EXPECTED



2. (c) Apologizing that she still does not have complete
information on some of the issues raised during preparations
for input for the TIP report, al-Suswah provided
documentation (in Arabic) that she received from the Ministry
of Interior (MOI). Note: This information is being
translated and reviewed by the Embassy; the Minister
specifically requested that the names of victims and
perpetrators be withheld to protect their privacy. End note.
The Minister explained that for the first time, the MOI has
coordinated with other ROYG entities to record the cases of
women and children being trafficked in three governorates
(Hajjah, Mahwhit, and Saada) from 2002 to 2003.



3. (c) Al-Suswah commented that the TIP phenomenon in Yemen
is still new, and that the root of the problem is poverty.
She described most of the children's cases as a desperate
economic measure by families forced to send children outside
the country to beg. Al-Suswah remarked that this practice is
prohibited by Yemeni law, and said that the vast majority of
children identified by the MOI have already been returned
home and the cases are being prosecuted. She also cited a
recent public announcement by the Ministry of Social Affairs,
which is launching a Child Protection Program aimed at
providing care, rehabilitation and education services to
needy children.



4. (c) She characterized the majority of the women's cases as
involving prostitution which, in addition to prompting moral
objections and religious prohibitions, is also against the
law. Acknowledging the change in visa policy for Iraqis (ref
b), al-Suswah said that Yemen's "eyes are open to address
issues," but that the problems are complex. Stating that
there have been 13 deportations of women involved in
prostitution, mostly due to health concerns, Al-Suswah
advocated for clear legal measures and coordination among
security agencies to address the issue, and assured the
Ambassador that the ROYG is commited to tracing the source of
the problem and to prosecuting perpetrators. She expressed
that the criminals engaged in this activity are not
well-organized or well-established. Ambassador emphasized
that the focus should be on punishing the criminals, rather
than the victims. He also indicated that preliminary
responses from Washington were supportive of Yemen's efforts,
that it is unlikely that Yemen will be named in any of the
tiers, and that it needs to continue to pursue the issue and
put pressure on the traffickers.

MESSAGE FOR AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: HUMAN RIGHTS AND
SECURITY, NOT A ZERO-SUM GAME



5. (c) The Minister shared her thoughts -- and the text of
her opening remarks -- on the 2-day conference co-sponsored
by Amnesty International (AI) and the Yemeni National
Organization for Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms (HOOD)
to focus attention and organize in support of the detainees
at Guantanamo and in Yemen. She said that she tried to be
diplomatic in her message that it is possible to balance
human rights and security interests. She was pleased that
the AI delegation arrived after the announcement that the USS
Cole attackers will be prosecuted. Al-Suswah expressed her
approval of the dialogue process headed by Judge al-Hitar
(ref e) to educate detainees that they have no right to
jihad, but mentioned that conference attendees were vocal in
their opinion that the ROYG is unfairly detaining suspected
terrorist activists.



6. (c) Ambassador mentioned that he would be meeting with the
AI that afternoon (septel). He and al-Suswah agreed that
they want to convey substantially the same message: Terror
is a world-wide problem with no easy solution, but there can
be a balance between security and human rights and over the
past two years Yemen has proven that a country can make
progress on Human Rights and counter-terrorism. The Minister
said that the Ministry is arranging meetings for the
delegates with the Presidential Office, the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, the Presidential Security Office (PSO) and
the Ministry of Justice; she noted that the Ministry of
Interior declined to meet with the delegation.

HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT RECEIVED WITH "RESPECT" - FREEDOM OF THE
PRESS REQUIRES RESPONSIBILITY



7. (c) Minister al-Suswah said that, except for the Women's
National Committee, she has received all the government's
comments on the HRR. Saying the report has been received
with "respect, she requested a joint meeting or press
conference in conjunction with the Ambassador once she has
compiled all of the reactions. Ambassador responded that we
benefit from the comments and he is pleased with Yemeni
efforts to improve the dialogue.



8. (c) Al-Suswah complained that the state Saba News agency
misrepresented the HRR as "full of lies." Upon
investigation, she said she learned the journalist used the
previous year's printed description to improperly
characterize the 2003 HRR. Accordingly, she requested a
published correction to reflect that the report is favorable
toward Yemen. She expounded that journalists should be
punished for false reporting, but are not properly trained
and often unduly influenced by political affiliations. The
Minister is planning to meet with the journalists syndicate
to discuss the future of the press and the laws governing it,
especially so-called "crimes" of the press, and to begin to
develop a "charter of ethics" for journalists.



9. (c) Ambassador relayed a recent problem Post had with the
moderate Islamist weekly mouthpiece for the Popular Forces
Union Party, al-Shura, publishing inflammatory reports on the
anniversary of the March 2003 anti-war demonstrations at the
Embassy (ref a). He emphasized that ROYG forces only
returned fire when fired upon and did not instigate the
resulting violence. Ambassador noted that the Post's PAO
wrote an explanatory letter that was published, but only with
defensive commentary. Ambassador and al-Suswah agreed that
the media should not create its own version of history and
that security forces should be credited for acting
appropriately and admonished and corrected if they act
improperly.

FREEDOM HOUSE REPORT CITES YEMEN AS "AN EXAMPLE FOR THE
ARABIAN PENINSULA"



10. (c) Ambassador shared the newly-released Freedom House
report on 30 countries at the crossroads of reform (available
at www.freedomhouse.org/research/crossroads/cac. htm). He
commented favorably on Minister al-Suswah's facilitation of
the September 2003 visit by consultant Brian Katulis, who
drafted the report.

MINISTER TO TRAVEL TO ISTANBUL IN APRIL AND WASHINGTON IN MAY



11. (c) Al-Suswah stated she is attending the Congress of
Democrats from the Islamic World (CDIW), organized by the
National Democratic Institute, along with FM Abu Bakr
al-Qirbi, Presidential Advisor Abdul Karim al-Iryani, the
Chairman of the Supreme Committee on Election and Referenda,
and influential representatives from the three main political
parties. She said she also plans to travel to Washington, DC
around May 15 to receive an award, along with three other
women, from Vital Voices. The Minister is planning to stay
several additional days for meetings with the Department and
NGOs. She expressed regret that she missed meeting U/S
Dobriansky in Geneva in March, but understood how difficult
it can be to connect during conferences. Ambassador pledged
assistance in facilitating her travel and appointments.

HULL