Written By: Majid al-Kibsi
Article Date: May 28, 2012 - 1:01:07 PM
Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Al-Mikhlafi, a key figure in the Socialist party and Minister of Legal Affairs, was a legalist and a professor in the Yemen Human Rights Observers. He received his PhD from Russia in international law and was a general manager at the legal affairs department in the Ministry of Expatriates.
Moreover, al-Mikhlafi has published books in law and human rights , Globalization effects on technology ant its conflicts, Freedom of Investment’s risks, “Copy Rights” and “Electoral system in Yemen”.
The Yemen Observer met with Minister al-Mikhlafi to discuss new draft law on transitional justice and a new amendment proposed to the parliament and follows an interview with the Minister: YO: The Turkish ambassador recently announced that Turkey was working in partnership with your ministry regarding a change in legislation.
Could you tell us more of what is at stake here and the areas that you intend to change?
We have a long list of legislations that is required for the coming transitional phase. These legislations are divided into three groups. The first group focus on enhancing liberties, rights and freedom of expression such as demonstration organizing law, journalism law, unions law, CSOs’ law, freedom of information law.
It also focus on establishing human rights foundation law in cooperation with the Ministry of the Human Rights; accommodating the marginalized law; amending the discretionary materials of the executions law and the political parties and organizational law.
The second group of laws will focus on countering corruption and enhancing transparency through the laws of countering corruption, tenders, financial disclosure, enriching and illegal profiting, protection of witnesses and reporters in corruption cases, judicial authority law, prosecuting supreme authority employees and the control and auditing central authority laws.
The third group targets the public participation enhancements by working on the laws of the local authority law, visions of the constitutional amendments and the transitional justice law.
The objective is to adopt the national regulations and legislation with the International conventions that Yemen has signed and committed.
YO: Would you use Turkey as a model to emulate in Yemen?
In regard to the experiments, we are willing to learn from these countries, but our choice will be defined in accordance to the national dialogue, the experiments that seek the democracy or have achieved it like Turkey, which is an Islamic country. It might be the closest module that we emulate, quote or refer to.
YO: But what is the objective that you seek to achieve during your period in this position?
I only want to achieve something to Yemen that will make a change, an achievement that will stop the violations against human rights and liberties, achievement that would end attacks against the public institutions and facilities and to end the system of corruption.
The presence legislative entity includes the basics and values of response governing will be the only way to end the corruption or at least will start the base for the next phase.
YO: Many activist says that the Ministry does not have the authority to propose new laws without being assigned by the Parliament or a presidential decree; therefore it condemns the proposing of the Transitional Justice law presented by the Ministry of Legal Affairs ,Why?
It is misleading information or perhaps just a misunderstood fact. There are only two authorities that are authorized to propose the law: the parliament and the Government. In the government, the authority in charge of proposing laws is the Ministry of Legal Affairs either respectively or in cooperation with another ministry or authority and no authority or Ministry is authorized to propose a law. Whoever says this is part of the conspiracy and attacking that led Yemen to failure.
YO: So, if the Minsitry has been targeted because of its support of the Transitional Justice law, and who is benefiting from this? The law came along with the National Reconciliation that consist from two sides. One is forgiveness that calls for forgiving whoever committed crimes or felonies during their working days or under the name of the authority. This was achieved through the immunity from prosecution law.
The other side achieves by Justice. We always say that “there is no peace without justice” those who have the immunity attack this law and do not realize that the immunity cannot uphold in reality without achieving justice and acquiring acceptance and satisfaction from the reconciliation.
There are also personnel who do not agree with the law and still feel the urge to have vengeance.
This way of thinking is not positive or promising because Yemen Unity, solidarity and peace depends on the citizen safety , peace and stability which is more noble than the idea of punishing the person in question. That might also be a reason to think that the transitional justice law has served the part that acquired the Immunity.
There are also personnel with private agendas to practice rights activism as a resource for profiting, which it can be, but it is not like this. If the law is not published then there will be no work for them to practice.
Those may have not understood the law because if they have understood it well they will realize that the law creates a new opportunities such as preparing an environment of tolerance, awareness of national dialogue, promoting for forgiveness and accepting the others in the economical , political and religious sides.
YO: The proposed Law will compensate the victims of the revolution and the demonstrations, but will it also compensate for the neighborhoods that were affected by the demonstrations such as al-Jamea’a and al-Tahrir?
The law would compensate the affected and damages areas including the areas that were hit by the conflict materially and morally.
The moral damage will compensate by a speech that address to the whole society. What you mean by the neighborhoods is that any damage occurred during 2011 in these areas due to political conflict or attacks by the demonstrators or mobility restrictions, in addition to the society damages, will be compensated.
Moreover, the damages that affected the citizens in the south in 1994 civil war as well as the attacks on the peaceful Southern Mvoement or any area in Yemen will be compensated. Moreover, any damages after the establishment of the Republic until now will also be compensated.
YO: Such compensations are not in small figure, the government would need a huge amount to compensate all the victims, have you taken this issue into your consideration?
There is no doubt that we had it in our consideration. Yemen ability to handle the burden of the transitional phase is not available. But this operation is internationally supported.
This international support will have a large portion of it directed to the transitional Justice implementation, which we already know about it.
YO: What are the output expectations you are looking forward to achieve from the National Dialogue?
National Dialogue is the essence of the political process; the actual success of the political process depends on the National dialogue. All parties are welcomed in the National dialogue; if any actor wants to exempt itself from the dialogue nobody can force it.
However, I don’t think there are any forces that exempt itself from the national dialogue. These forces exempt itself are weak forces that cannot be equal and it won’t stop the national dialogue.
In regard to the output of the national dialogue, it was already decided before it started; it is specified on the mechanism of implementing the transitional period.
The national dialogue will target three tasks: first, to solve the southern issue; second,to remove all the conflicts aftermath in many areas which led to wars such in Sa’adah; and third, to make a new vision for the political strategy, economical strategy and social strategy based on the basics of the new constitution.
Therefore, the basics are required to define the shape of the governing system which should achieve by decentralization and partnership in power between the political forces in Yemen, also creating a system that removes the aftereffect of the past regime.
YO: Some political forces put pre-conditions like al-Houthis and the Southern Movement in order for it to participate in the national dialogue. What is the government position in this?
There are no pre-conditions before the national Dialogue. These conditions are some kind of will test, but I don’t think that their conditions might forbid these forces from participating in the national Dialogue.
There is a communication committee formed by presidential decree. The committee objective is to responsible to form predatory committee to preare for the dialogue.
I guess that if any side wants to put condition it means it is not willing to participate in the dialogue. I think the Southern Movement does not have any objection to the peaceful dialogue. In regard to al-Houthis, they are part of the National Dialogue committee and presented a documents title “Vision to the national dialogue”.
YO: “Investment needs strong and fair judicial system,” Judges have argued on many occasions for the need to separate the Judiciary from the Executive and Legislative as to be completely independent; hence the Judiciary would be free from manipulation. What are your thoughts on this?
The independence of Judicial System is related to the constructer of the whole system. It is related to the separation of the authorities.,Now there is interference between the Judicial and the Executive. However, the Executive has the upper hand.
The other thing is that the judicial system needs to restructure, so it can be capable to face the other authorities. Moreover, the judicial authority has to be independent financially and administratively so that the executive authority does not have any responsibility in hiring and appointing judges. All of these things should be treated within the new constitution and be tackled in the national dialogue.
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