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Cablegate: U.S. Record 2003-04: Support for Human Rights And

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 000244

SIPDIS

STATE FOR DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KDEM YM HUMAN RIGHTS DEMOCRATIC REFORM
SUBJECT: U.S. RECORD 2003-04: SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND
DEMOCRACY IN YEMEN

REF: A. 03 SANAA 1101
B. 03 SECSTATE 333935

1. (u) Paragraph 2 contains Post's input for the 2003-04
edition of "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: the U.S.
Record" per reftel b. Because last year's report on Yemen
contained programs that were ongoing throughout 2003-04 (ref
a), Post's input consists of updated language on ongoing
programs and additional language on new programs. Submission
will also be sent to DRL via e-mail as a tracked changes
document.

2. (u) Begin Text:

Yemen

Although events in 2003 reflect improvement in its human
rights record, Yemen has a history of problems in both the
political and social sphere, including citizens' limited
ability to change the government, a weak judiciary, human
rights abuses, and laws limiting freedom of expression. The
2003-2004 U.S. human rights and democracy strategy for Yemen
addresses the need for the Government to continue to
strengthen its human rights record, continue to enact social
reforms, improve problems within the judiciary, and further
the process of democratic development. The United States
continued several long-term projects addressing these issues,
including programs aimed at strengthening Yemen's political
parties, improving election administration, increasing voter
participation, fostering civil society and improving the
country's human rights record.

The Defense Department Counter-Terrorism Fellowship funds a
training program in the United States for Yemeni military
officers, one aim of which is to convey the importance of
respecting human rights. This program is highly successful
in Yemen and is ongoing.

Yemen continued a long-term program of judicial reform, in an
attempt to counter the numerous problems within the
judiciary. Yemen's Minister of Justice and other jurists
participated actively in the Middle East Partnership
Initiative's Arab Judicial Forum. The courts are only
nominally independent and have been plagued by corruption,
executive branch interference, and the failure of authorities
to enforce rulings.

In addition to political reforms, the United States has been
urging the Government of Yemen to enact social reforms and
encourage respect for human rights. The United States engages
frequently with the Government's Ministry of Human Rights to
improve the Government's ability and willingness to redress
specific human rights abuses. The Embassy continued to
support 17 separate NGO projects in 2003. Two programs to
provide training and capacity building to NGOs targeted rural
areas where civil society remains nascent. Another project
raised awareness of the struggles and rights of disabled
children in public schools to combat discrimination. Several
projects aimed to improve women's rights. Yemeni women have
traditionally been politically and socially marginalized,
with limited political representation in parliament or local
councils despite high voter participation, restricted access
to healthcare and education, as well as widespread reports of
domestic abuse, and some instances of female genital
mutilation. Under a USDA program, the Embassy established a
project to build and furnish new primary schools for girls in
isolated rural areas in order to give girls access to modern
education and to facilitate their inclusion within society. A
$2 million MEPI-funded program aims to address the 67%
illiteracy rate among women and girls.

USAID reopened its offices in Yemen in 2003. USAID is
promoting a social/economic development program to address
some fundamental human issues facing the Government of Yemen
and its people, including: health; basic education and
literacy; food security and employment in a predominantly
agricultural society; and strengthening democratic
institutions.

In 2003, International Visitor Programs brought NGO
activists, government officials and other leaders to the
United States to gain skills and knowledge in such areas as
youth leadership, women's leadership in civil society and the
public and private sector and community service and NGOs.

A multi-year Department of Labor-supported program
administered through the International Labor Organization
continued combating the problem of street child labor in 2003.

Although the citizens of Yemen still have limited ability to
change their Government, significant strides have been made
to address problems plaguing the electoral system, including
poorly-organized voter registration resulting in
disenfranchisement, inadequate election day administration
and fraud prevention, and inequitable political party
participation. The United States funded programs by the
National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International
Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) to strengthen Yemen's
multi-party system. They worked directly with political
activists to improve future elections by focusing on
increasing women's political participation and
representation, improving voter registration, particularly
among women, and strengthening election day administration.

NDI continued a U.S.-funded program to improve the ability of
local councils to represent the citizens through a better
understanding of the law governing local councils. The April
2003 national parliamentary elections were generally
considered to have been a significant improvement over
previous elections, with good marks for organization,
participation and security. For example, women's
registration and participation in the election increased by
more than 40% to reach more than 75% of eligible women voters
participating. The Ambassador, embassy staffers, and
election observers from IFES, NDI, the European Union and the
UN were present at polling places throughout the country to
observe the elections.

In 2004, the Embassy will increase programming designed to
strengthen democratic institutions, decentralize authority
and resource management, and expand opportunities for civil
society in decision-making.

Regionally, the U.S. supported the al-Khalij Forum For
Democratic Political Action, held in Sanaa in October 2003.
It was the third such forum in the region, which brought
together democratic activists from the Gulf and Iraq to
improve their advocacy skills in fostering political reform
in the region.
MISENHEIMER

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