Cablegate: Usg Support for Human Rights in Yemen

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 13796


1. In 2002, Embassy Sanaa managed several successful programs
that encourage respect for human rights in Yemen, including
equal access to education, human rights training for military
officers, and 17 small grants focused on grassroots democracy
and the development of civil society.

Most notably, during 2002 preparations for the recent
national parliamentary elections, the Mission worked closely
with major NGOs to support nationwide voter registration
programs, the development of political parties, women's
political participation (43% of registered voters) and
training for effective local governance. These efforts
culminated recently with exceptionally high participation
(75% of all registered voters) in national elections judged
generally free, fair and peaceful by international observers.

2. Promoting respect for human rights in Yemen is a top
Mission priority that directly supports the essential US
interests: eradicating terrorism and ensuring stable,
democratic governments in the region. Yemen is a poor
country with explosive population growth (3.5%), traditional
social structures that exclude women, widespread adult
illiteracy, troublesome levels of corruption, and radical
religious groups. However, it has also been making
measurable progress in moving toward democracy, the rule of
law, and increased participation for its citizens in an
effective civil society.

3. The Embassy's Democracy Working Group (DWG) includes
American and FSN members from every Country Team agency. It
maintains close contacts with local and international NGOs,
as well as other foreign missions working on development and
human rights issues. With no direct-hire American USAID
officers at post, DWG members work together on Mission human
rights agenda. They monitor grants, evaluate proposals,
recruit promising candidates for the International Visitors'
Program, and visit distant field projects. The Ambassador,
the DCM and other officers make human rights issues a regular
part of their conversations with leaders in every segment of


4. Education/Participation: In 2002, USDA PL 416 (B) funded
12.4 million dollars for the construction and furnishing of
new primary schools for girls in isolated rural areas. This
will provide thousands of young women their first access to
modern education and their first entry into civil society.
The International Visitors' Program allowed a number of young
Yemeni leaders to share and debate US perspectives on such
issues as "Women as Political Partners."

5. Military Training: In 2002, Defense Department
Counter-Terrorism Fellowship funds ($450,000) provided many
opportunities for promising Yemeni officers and
non-commissioned officers to learn increased respect for
human rights as an essential element of their professional
military studies. These courses, either in the US or
directed by US military trainers in Yemen, have produced
gratifying results: a marked decrease in cases of human
rights abuse by the Yemeni military. The Embassy's Office of
Military Cooperation is tracking these results to ensure the
most effective training in years to come.


6. Small Grants/Big Results: The Embassy's Public Diplomacy
Office funded 17 programs throughout Yemen in 2002, totaling
almost $100,000, through the Democracy Small Grants Projects:
The individual cost of these programs is small, but the goals
are ambitious. For example: to "Educate Society Leaders in
Human Rights Law" ten influential preachers/prayer leaders
from mosques throughout the country gathered for a series of
workshops on political, civil and constitutional rights
guaranteed under Yemen's new Human Rights Law. To combat
"Violence Against Women", project leaders drawn from local
women's groups worked with officials from several Ministries
to raise awareness of the psychological, medical, criminal,
cultural and legal roots of these crimes. This 2002
initiative helped lead to the recent establishment of a
national network of women's groups helping victims of
domestic violence.

7. Training Local Councils: In 2002, the National Democratic
Institute (NDI) began an ambitious program to train local
councils. Throughout Yemen, local councils control
significant resources and provide basic services to Yemen's
population: trained members are essential to combat
traditional problems of patronage, corruption, and gender
bias. The Mission will continue to work closely with NDI on
this ongoing project, and seek additional funding for it from
the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the Economic
Support Fund (ESF) and the Middle East Democracy Fund (MEDF).

8. The Infrastructure of Free Elections: NDI and the
International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) also
provided special training in 2002 to strengthen Yemen's
multi-party system. Funds from MEPI and MEDF helped support
comprehensive technical and organizational assistance to the
Government of Yemen. NDI staffers worked directly with local
political activists, focusing on women's political
participation, voter registration, and local governance.

9. The Results: In the April, 2003 national parliamentary
elections, Yemen scored encouraging international marks for
organization, participation, and security. The Ambassador and
twenty-five Embassy Sanaa staffers joined international
election observers from IFES, NDI, the EU and the United
Nations, at polling places throughout the country. Although
much work remains, 2002 was a year of progress for human
rights in Yemen, with positive and measurable results. The
MIssion will continue to build on that record.


11. USG funded projects of $100,000 or more:

a. $12.4 Million - USDA PL 416 (b): To construct and furnish
primary schools for girls in isolated rural areas.

b. $450,000 - DOD Counter Terrorism Fellowship Funds:
Training military officers to highest professional standards,
with respect for human rights as an integral part of the

c. $100,000 - DOS/NEA Democracy Small Grants Program: To fund
small grassroots projects promoting democratization and civil

d. $1.3 Million - DOS/Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) and
the Middle East Development Fund (MEDF): National Democratic
Institute (NDI) training for local councils to provide
effective services to all citizens, Also, International
Federation of Election Systems (IFES), National Democratic
Institute and International Republican Institute (IRI)
training for local party organizers and national election
supervisors in all aspects of party organization, voter
registration, and conduct of elections.

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