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Cablegate: Yemen: Follow Up On President's Proposed Middle

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

UNCLAS SANAA 001236

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KJUS PHUM PREL YM DEMOCRATIC REFORM
SUBJECT: YEMEN: FOLLOW UP ON PRESIDENT'S PROPOSED MIDDLE
EAST REGIONAL JUSTICE FORUM

REF: A. SECSTATE 130099
B. SECSTATE 138602

1. Embassy Sanaa warmly endorses the proposed Middle East
Regional Justice Forum. While the ROYG has conducted a
judicial reform project since 1997 with donor support from
several countries, the results have been mixed and more work
needs to be done. Yemeni reform-minded judges and justice
officials will welcome the opportunity to learn from their
regional counterparts and international experts.

2. Based on readouts from judicial reform project supporters
as well as Post's own contacts, Embassy Sanaa makes the
following recommendations for possible participants in the
September session in Manama:

Dr. Adnan Omar al-Jafri
Minister of Justice
Newly-appointed to the cabinet (May 2003), professor of
international law at Aden University, and Member of Parliament

Judge Hamoud al-Hitar
Member, Supreme Court
Former Chairman of the Ulema ("religious scholar") Committee
to conduct dialogue to reform fundamentalist terror-related
detainees in 2002, considered one of the most moderate Yemeni
clerics, prominent reform and human rights activist, close
contact of Embassy, former IVP participant in the 1990s

Reem Tariq Abdullah
Lawyer, Aden
Maritime and commercial law practice, reform-minded female
lawyer, part of well-connected Yemeni family, former Humphrey
fellow

Judge Ahmed Sharafaddin
Head, Sanaa Court of Appeals
Traditional background but dedicated reform activist,
well-known as scrupulously honest

Judge Isaam al-Samawi
Head, Aden Court of Appeals
Young, fairly traditional judge, dedicated reformer

3. Post agrees with the broad themes outlined in reftels and
offers the following suggestions relevant to the Yemeni
context for consideration for the first meeting or subsequent
regional gatherings:

-- Strengthening the official judicial system to counteract
reliance on traditional tribal justice: In Yemen, the
reliance on traditional tribal justice for resolution of
disputes lessens confidence in and respect for the formal
judicial system and keeps patronage and power in the hands of
the tribal system. This tendency undermines the rule of law
and future democratic progress.

-- Specialized training on commercial law: The lack of wide
expertise and understanding of commercial law among judges
and lawyers creates problems for the business community,
helps block foreign investment and creates barriers for
increasing opportunities for U.S. business access and
investment.

-- Land tenure law: Land disputes, particularly among rival
tribes, continue to be a primary source of conflict in Yemen.
The lack of a clear and enforceable land tenure law
contributes to the lack of effective avenues of peaceful
resolution to land disputes.
MISENHEIMER

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