Yemen parliament approves emergency laws

Yemen parliament approves emergency laws

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[JURIST] The Yemeni Parliament enacted several emergency measures Wednesday at the request of President Ali Abdullah Saleh [official website, in Arabic] in an effort to end anti-government protests. The new laws give the government greater power [AP report] to arrest and detain protesters and to censor the media. The new laws follow Saleh’s declaration last Friday of a 30-day state of emergency [JURIST report]. The measure passed easily as many minority party members of the 301-seat parliament did not attend the session. Saleh warned Tuesday that Yemen could face a civil war after opposition leaders rejected his offer to step down by the end of this year. The emergency laws expire in 30 days.

Yemen is not the first country to declare a state of emergency in the midst of anti-government protests in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Bahraini lawmakers called on King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa [official website] to declare a state of emergency [JURIST report] and invoke martial law after 5,000 protesters marched to demand an end to the monarchy. Bahrain officially declared martial law [JURIST report] last week. Yemeni authorities have previously been criticized for their counter-terror methods. In August, Amnesty International [advocacy website] criticized methods used by the government [JURIST report] as violations of human rights. These methods included arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, among other actions taken by security forces.