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Cablegate: Royg Justice Minister On Bahrain Conference;

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

UNCLAS SANAA 002681

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/PI (WINCUP)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KJUS PGOV YM DEMOCRATIC REFORM
SUBJECT: ROYG JUSTICE MINISTER ON BAHRAIN CONFERENCE;
PROSPECTS FOR YEMENI REFORM

1. (U) Ambassador accompanied by Pol/Econ Deputy
(notetaker) called on Minister of Justice Adnan al-Jafri to
discuss the September Arab Judicial Forum conference and
progress in reforming the Yemeni justice system on November
5. After detailing serious problems with the rule of law in
Yemen, the Minister urged the Ambassador to seek U.S.
assistance to reform the judiciary. Al-Jafri said, "an
efficient and strong judiciary is essential to creating
stability in Yemen and in the region." The Ambassador
agreed to explore ways in which to assist, particularly in
the area of commercial law reform. End Summary.

ARAB JUDICIAL FORUM - GREAT SUCCESS

2. (U) The Minister expressed great appreciation for the
MEPI-supported Arab Judicial Forum that was held in Bahrain
in September. He said he wanted to bring together the
Yemeni participants to discuss lessons learned and how to
apply them in Yemen. Al-Jafri praised the participation of
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and noted the following areas as
being particularly useful as the Ministry draws up its
strategic plan for reform:

-- Improving the selection and training of judges, including
their morals and ethics as well as their rights and
obligations;

-- Ensuring the independence of the judiciary;

-- Exploring the role of civil society organizations in
improving the rule of law;

-- Strengthening human rights provisions in the judiciary
and in legislation;

-- Applying legislation super-nationally in areas such as
corruption, transparency and money laundering;

-- Codifying Shari'a law.

WIDESPREAD PROBLEMS WITH YEMENI JUSTICE SECTOR

3. (U) The Justice Minister said he was developing
ambitious plans for re-structuring and reforming the
judiciary. He invited U.S. representatives to a December 14
conference in Sanaa that will bring together the results of
public discussions held in the governorates over the past 5
months in order to develop a written strategic plan for
reform. The Minister outlined numerous problems facing
justice reform efforts. Generally, he noted the lack of
access by the less powerful, such as women and the poor, and
the complicated procedures that prolong the path to justice.
He also said the lack of women judges exacerbated women's
ability to seek justice and that the political will to
appoint more women judges was an obstacle rather than the
law itself. He described the problem of traditional tribal
justice and the intervention of powerful sheikhs in
resolving disputes. He said corruption was an endemic
problem, with 13 judges dismissed in 2003, as well as
antiquated administrative procedures that limit judges'
ability to apply the law properly.

4. (U) Specifically, the Minister highlighted commercial
law reform as a vital area for improvement. The investment
climate cannot improve until the commercial courts play
their role robustly in fair judgments and implementation. In
addition to investment problems, al-Jafri noted land
disputes, maritime law and money exchange as other areas for
improvement.

COMMENT: POSSIBILITIES FOR U.S. ASSISTANCE

5. (U) With areas and prospects for reform so diverse at
this time and ROYG reform efforts still underdeveloped, Post
will continue to explore ways to follow-up on the Bahrain
conference directly. However, Post believes that the area
of commercial law reform provides an area for reform that
can be assisted immediately. Post will seek MEPI or other
appropriate funds to develop a program to improve the
commercial law system, including training judges and lawyers
in commercial law, deconflicting old laws remaining on the
books since unification and improving enforcement of
commercial rulings. End Comment.

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