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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05SANAA903
2005-04-11 13:30:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Sanaa
Cable title:  

SOSWA MEETS DCM ON THE 2004 HRR

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PHUM  KMPI  YM  KMCC  DOMESTIC  POLITICS 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 000903 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KMPI YM KMCC DOMESTIC POLITICS
SUBJECT: SOSWA MEETS DCM ON THE 2004 HRR

Classified By: DCM Nabeel Khoury for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 000903

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KMPI YM KMCC DOMESTIC POLITICS
SUBJECT: SOSWA MEETS DCM ON THE 2004 HRR

Classified By: DCM Nabeel Khoury for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).


1. (C) Summary: Amidst heavy ROYG criticism of the 2004 U.S.
Human Rights Report, Human Rights Minister Amat al-Alim
al-Soswa delivered a 49-page ROYG response to the report to
DCM April Soswa took the opportunity to express her own less
critical feelings on the report, and share her Ministry's
strategy for improving human rights in Yemen in 2005. End
Summary.

--------------
Soswa: "We Don't Have the Whitest Page"
--------------


2. (C) Minister Soswa delivered a 49-page section-by-section
response to the 2004 HR Country Report on Yemen to DCM April

2. She claimed that several sections of the report were
flawed due to vague assertions and failure to cite specific
cases. She also stated her "disappointment" with what she
characterized as a lack of coordination between Post and the
MHR upon the HRR's release, and expressed her willingness to
be more "positively engaged" during next year's drafting
period. (Note: Post worked with HHR officials while drafting
the Yemen report and delivered a copy to the Ministry. End
Note). DCM promised better coordination and suggested that
the MHR and Post co-sponsor a 2005 roundtable to jointly
debate the issue in front of the public. Soswa agreed it was
a good idea.


3. (C) Soswa confided that she personally was pleased overall
with the report. She told DCM that in her address to the
ROYG committee tasked with preparing the rebuttal she said,
"We do not have the whitest page in human rights," and
referred to the U.S. report as the "best review" of Yemen's
human rights thus far available. She added that she advised
the committee that the purpose of the report is not to
embarrass Yemen and should be used instead as a tool for
improving human rights practices.

-------------- --------------
Soswa: "Human Rights are Unfortunately Political"
-------------- --------------


4. (C) Soswa denied recent press rumors that the MHR might
split from the government to become an NGO. Instead, she
revealed, she is pushing for the establishment of a national
body on human rights issues. Soswa said she believed that
forming such a body would institutionalize the way in which
the ROYG deals with human rights abuses, and improve the
current practice of resolving human rights abuses on a
case-by-case basis and at the whim of individual ministers.
Soswa said she would lobby parliamentarians and the Cabinet
for support. Both presently reject the idea, she said,
"discussion of human rights unfortunately quickly became very
political."


5. (C) Soswa reported that the MHR would release its own
human rights report this month. "We will take your report
and enhance it," she promised. According to Soswa the ROYG
report will deal with broad themes and examine both
governmental and societal abuses. She described her
Ministry's role as a "facilitator" with NGOs being the
primary authors of the report.


6. (C) Soswa pledged her commitment to, "continue to improve
the status of human rights in Yemen," and that her office
would stress awareness among security officers, push for a
women's quota system in Parliament and local councils, and
better address trafficking in children and women.

--------------
Comment:
--------------


7. (C) Soswa dutifully delivered the long ROYG rebuttal, but
then moved quickly to examine next steps to improve human
rights conditions in Yemen. Although she criticized sections
of the report, her personal opinion of its usefulness clearly
differs from the official ROYG position. Although striving
to institutionalize the work of her ministry, as well as aid
the development of NGOs as human rights shareholders, Soswa
clearly faces an uphill struggle against her politically more
influential colleagues in the Cabinet.


8. (C) Since the release of the HRR, Post has witnessed the
gamut of responses from civil society, the press and the
ROYG. Although most reviews have been positive and critiques
constructive, the ROYG's response has been contradictory and
defensive. At first glance, the official rebuttal seems to
primarily rebut the HRR with vague challenges and/or
declarations of law. A closer examination will hopefully
expose more salient points that Post can use. In the end,
despite the ROYG's irritation, it is encouraging to see human
rights being discussed and debated so openly in Yemen. End
Comment.
Krajeski