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Cablegate: Al-Soswa Ready to Lead the Way in Human Rights

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

201050Z Sep 04



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: On 9/06 Human Rights Minister, Amat al-Aleem
Al-Soswa, told Ambassador that dealing with other, more
established ministries can be challenging and that Yemen
still has a ways to go to improve its human rights situation.
Soswa touched on her efforts to protect freedom of the press,
the rights of detainees suspected of terrorism, and the
willingness of the ROYG to accept USG help in training
security forces on human rights. End Summary.

Al-Soswa: Ready to take on her Role

2. "We have a long way to go,8 acknowledged Yemen,s first
Minister of Human Rights, Amat al-Aleem Al-Soswa, in her
first meeting with Ambassador. Soswa said that she has just
begun to address human rights issues in Yemen and that she
has "no intention of quitting no matter how difficult the
endeavor." She continued that her year-old ministry is
learning to positively affect the human rights situation.
Soswa commented that the Ministry's dual role as both an
advocate for the people and the government, makes her job
difficult at times.

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Human Rights Challenges: The Press, Detainees, and Equality
--------------------------------------------- --------------

3. Al-Soswa raised the one-year prison sentence against the
editor-in-chief of the opposition newspaper Al-Shura (covered
septel), saying that recent government pressure to muzzle the
press was "not justified.8 Soswa revealed she had
contacted the paper and offered to attend any subsequent
court hearings if they so requested.

4. Ambassador commended the Minister's recent speech in
which she called for equality in political participation and
representation for all citizens. Soswa suggested that a
quota for women,s seats in parliament might be a solution to
redress under-representation, but forecast that getting
Parliament to agree and to amend the Constitution would not
be easy.

5. On the issue of detainees suspected of ties to terrorism
being held by ROYG authorities without due process, Soswa
accepted that &exceptional8 measures were required. She
reported that the cases of many of these detainees are in the
process of being settled, but did not offer a figure for how
many remained in custody. Ambassador assured her that the
Guantanamo Bay process was also moving forward and that a
second Yemeni delegation would soon be permitted to visit
with Yemeni detainees. Soswa urged that the USG remember it
is considered a leading nation in respect for human rights
and that it not minimize its role as an example for other

Invitation to AS Craner

6. Al-Soswa extended an invitation to Assistant Secretary of
State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Lorne Cramer to
visit Yemen, and also expressed an interested in possible USG
human rights training for all levels of the security forces.


7. Comment: The Ministry of Human Rights, significant
progress in the short time since its creation is a direct
reflection of Soswa,s fortitude. Several Yemeni human
rights activists praise Soswa for her ability to influence
established institutions in Yemen. Many local observers
attribute her effectiveness not so much to the strength of
the Ministry, but rather to other Ministers taking her
criticisms personally and seeking to avoid them. End Comment.


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