Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1991

The Republic of Yemen was proclaimed on May 22, 1990, by the
political leadership of the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and the
People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). The two
legislatures had ratified an interim unity Constitution, which
was overwhelmingly approved in a popular referendum in May
1991. Under this Constitution, the primary ruling bodies are
the five-member Presidential Council, whose President is the
Head of State, the Council of Ministers, the Consultative
Assembly, and the Parliament. The Parliament will remain in
session for a 30-month transitional period scheduled to end in
November 1992 when multiparty parliamentary elections are to be
held. The new Parliament will have the power to draft a new,
permanent constitution. The transitional agreement provides
that the laws of the two former Yemen republics will remain in
effect until supplanted by new laws passed by the Yemeni
Parliament. Leaders of the former YAR and PDRY dominate the
Republic's Government. The central Government in Sanaa
exercises its authority over much of Yemen, but tribal leaders
in the north and east continue to hold considerable power based
on their traditional prerogatives.
The two states' security services were technically abolished
just before unification. A combined security service continues
to exist as part of the Ministry of Interior. Its officers
have broad discretion over perceived national security issues,
and despite constitutional prohibitions frequently mistreat
detainees, routinely detain citizens for questioning, monitor
personal activities, telephone conversations, and
correspondence, and search homes.
Yemen is a poor country of 12 million people with a rudimentary
physical and social infrastructure. After unification, the
Marxist economy in the south was liberalized along the lines of
the free market economy in the north, but significant former
PDRY state institutions remain in the south. Agriculture and
oil dominate the Yemeni economy, with modest oil exports
providing a large percentage of government revenues.
Remittances from Yemeni workers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf
states, a former principal source of hard currency income, have
declined dramatically in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War
and the large-scale departure of Yemeni workers from the Gulf
Major human rights problems include abuse of prisoners and
detainees and arbitrary detention. Civil liberties, including
freedom of speech and association and guarantees against
discrimination based on sex, racial origin, or religion,
remained significantly restricted. However, although not
entirely free from government censorship, the press enjoys
increasing freedom, and the atmosphere for political party
activity continues to improve. There are now approximately 90
registered periodicals i.n Yemen and 38 political parties.
Informal and some institutionalized discrimination exists
against Yemeni citizens with a non-Yemeni parent. Tribal and
traditional social customs continue to restrict women's public
role in society.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no confirmed reports of such killings, although
prominent, politically active persons have been assassinated,
one as recently as December. There is no conclusive evidence
about the identity of those responsible.
      b. Disappearance
There were occasional reports of Yemenis disappearing following
detention by the security forces. Most such detainees were
eventually released. The fate of 16 political detainees who
disappeared in the former PDRY between 1967 and 1975 remains
unknown. Human rights observers also continue to express
concern about the fate of 25 members of the former National
Democratic Front, arrested between 1984 and 1988, and a number
of others who "disappeared" between 1967 and 1986. The
Government denies having any information about 12 persons
arrested in the former YAR for political reasons in 1989.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution proscribes "physical punishment and degrading
treatment," and there were no reports of torture in 1991, in
contrast to previous years. However, security officials are
commonly believed to resort with impunity to force or the
threat of force to extract information from detainees. The YAR
legal code is based on Islamic Shari'a law, which allows for
such punishments as stoning for adultery, amputation for
stealing, and beheading for murder. In August government
officials beheaded five persons convicted of murder and
amputated the hands of four others and the hand and foot of one
other person convicted of multiple thefts. All verdicts were
reviewed by a court of appeals and the Yemeni Supreme Court
before punishment was carried out. There are believed to be
several hundred similar cases pending. Despite official
decrees banning their use, shackles are still in use in a
number of Yemeni prisons. Mentally ill persons are also
occasionally shackled.
A Yemeni press story in February on prison conditions in Sanaa
central prison reported on unsafe and unsanitary facilities,
imprisonment of children, frequent use of torture and
humiliation, and failure to release prisoners who complete
their prison terms. The report also stated that prison
authorities regularly attempted to hide these conditions from
visiting Yemeni parliamentary groups. In April the Parliament
passed a law intended to correct prison abuses. However, the
law remains unimplemented in virtually all its aspects.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
There were continuing reports of arbitrary arrest. Some
detainees were held without charge for extended periods of
time, despite a constitutional provision limiting to 24 hours
the time the police may hold a suspect without judicial
concurrence. Relatives of the accused are sometimes held while
compensation of the victim or victim's relatives is
negotiated. In October the Government announced the release of
approximately 700 persons from Sanaa prison whose cases had
been reviewed by the Ministry of Justice. Some of these
persons had been in prison for up to 10 years. These prisoners
had been transferred to federal prisons following unification
from outlying prisons, in most cases without documentation
concerning sentences or crimes committed. An unknown number of
prisoners in this category remain in custody. The Government
has said that it will continue to investigate such cases.
Legal procedures which allow prisoners to notify relatives and
lawyers of their arrest are seldom observed, or observed only
upon payment of a bribe, especially in cases of arrests by
security officials. The Constitution prohibits the exile of
Yemeni citizens or the prevention of their return to Yemen.
Many political dissidents returned to Yemen after unification,
although several prominent Yemenis, including former PDRY
President Ali Nasir Muhammad, remain in self-imposed exile.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
In August the Government announced the reorganization of the
courts and the appointment of 48 new members of the Supreme
Court. Membership in the Supreme Court includes Yemenis from
both north and south. However, the precise jurisdiction of the
Supreme Court, especially over issues arising in the south, is
yet to be determined, and essentially there continue to be two
judicial systems in the country, divided along preunif ication
lines. The new judicial authority is intended to expand
significantly the rights of Yemeni citizens by giving them, for
the first time, a practical means to seek redress of
grievances. It also subjects decisions by military courts to
review by the Supreme Court. The lower courts have not yet
been merged, however, and the former court systems of the YAR
and the PDRY continue to function in their respective halves of
the country. In that part of Yemen which was formerly the YAR,
there are two court systems: Shari'a (criminal and family) and
commercial. The Shari'a courts are based on Islamic law and,
viewed within their traditional Islamic context (e.g. no jury
trials), are widely considered to be impartial. Defendants are
notified of the precise charges pending against them at the
conclusion of the police investigation. The judge actively
questions witnesses. Attorneys are allowed to counsel their
clients and may also address the court and examine witnesses.
Litigants in commercial courts can generally expect a fair and
open trial with legal counsel, although tribal ties and bribery
are said to play a role in some judicial proceedings.
Defendants enjoy the right of appeal and generally open court
sessions. The Shari'a and commercial courts are largely
independent of the executive, but judicial authorities have
complained of executive branch interference in sensitive cases
and of the continued existence of extrajudicial prisons
maintained in some ministries and controlled by the ministers.
The former YAR state security courts were formally abolished
after unification.
In the former PDRY, there was no separation of powers,
according to the Constitution, between the executive,
legislative, and the judicial branches. Pending the final
reorganization of the Yemeni judiciary, there are three court
systems: magistrate or divisional courts, provincial courts,
and military courts. Magistrate's courts have jurisdiction
over most crimes, traffic offenses, juvenile cases, family
cases, housing and agrarian disputes, and minor civil matters.
Provincial courts have jurisdiction over serious criminal cases
involving the death sentence or long prison terms, inheritance
cases, major civil claims, and appeals from magistrates'
courts. The military courts have jurisdiction over crimes
within the armed forces.
The current unified Government, as did its predecessors, denies
that it holds any political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Feimily, Home, or
The Constitution specifically provides for the freedom and
confidentiality of mail, telephones, telegrams, and other means
of communication, except in cases determined by law and a court
order. The Constitution also specifies that residences, places
of worship, and educational institutions are not to be searched
except in cases specified by law. Nevertheless, security
forces routinely search homes, monitor telephones, read
personal mail, and otherwise intrude into personal matters for
alleged security reasons.
Contact between Yemenis and foreigners, particularly diplomats,
is selectively monitored by the security forces, and Yemeni
visitors to foreign embassies and consulates are sometimes
questioned by security guards. These procedures tend to
discourage contact between Yemenis and diplomats.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The new Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press
"within the limits of the law." Many Yemenis remain cautious
in exercising their freedom of speech, but the trend is toward
more openness. Discussions at social gatherings are generally
frank, but some Yemenis believe they may experience difficulty
if security agents overhear them criticizing particular
government leaders. After unification, there was a significant
relaxation of restrictions on freedom of the press. Almost 90
new independent newspapers, representing diverse political
viewpoints, began publication and are distributed widely
throughout the country. Some criticized government leaders by
name, and many criticized the Government's domestic policies.
The Government censored or stopped distribution of independent
papers that commented on sensitive issues related to the
Persian Gulf War and on Yemen's relations with Saudi Arabia.
On August 20, Prime Minister Al-Attas was quoted in the
government daily Al-Thawra as saying that no papers should
engage in criticism of "friendly" states, a statement widely
interpreted as a warning to the press.
The Ministry of Information owns and operates Yemen's radio and
television stations, as well as several major newspapers.
Yemen's two television channels regularly broadcast
parliamentary sessions. A number of foreign English-language
and Arabic-language newspapers and magazines are available in
the cities. Occasionally, the Government has prevented the
distribution of foreign Arabic-language publications deemed to
contain material critical of Yemen and its leaders. In
addition, both foreigners and Yemenis are regularly scrutinized
at customs points, and materials of either a religious or
political nature, as well as material considered pornographic,
are often confiscated. Self-censorship is sometimes practiced
at Sanaa University, where professors and senior administrators
rec[uire a security clearance before being hired. However,
there are no reports that professors complain about government
interference in their teaching programs or curriculum
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Article 39 of the new Constitution provides for freedom of
association. Following unification, professional, labor,
educational, and social organizations of the former YAR and
PDRY began to unite, although philosophical differences between
Muslim activists and leftists on occasion still hinder the
formation of unified organizations. These organizations must
be registered with the Ministry of Social Security and Social
The Minister of Interior has formally reiterated the right of
Yemeni citizens to demonstrate peacefully. There were a number
of demonstrations concerning missing and imprisoned persons,
women's rights, the Gulf crisis, and secondary school and
university curriculums, most of which took place in what was
formerly the PDRY. Citizens regularly demonstrate peacefully
in front of the President's office. Parliament, and provincial
government offices to voice their views on domestic economic
issues. However, some violent political demonstrations by
students at Sanaa University were put down by force.
      c. Freedom of Religion
Islam is the state religion in Yemen, and there are some
restrictions on the practice of other religions. Most Yemenis
are Muslims, either members of the Zaydi (Shi 'a) sect or the
Shafi'i (Sunni) school of jurisprudence. Islamic associations
with ties to pan-Islamic organizations enjoy a degree of
freedom, including the right to operate schools largely
independent of the national school system. Radical Islamic
revival is not a major force in Yemen, although Muslim
activists increasingly assert their points of view on social
and political issues.
Although almost all of the once substantial Yemeni Jewish
population has emigrated, between 1,000 and 1,500 remain,
mostly scattered in northern rural areas. No synagogues are
allowed and there are no native rabbis, but Jews are able to
practice their religion in private homes. The Government has
allowed foreign Jewish groups to meet with Yemeni Jews, to
distribute Hebrew- language religious materials and religious
articles, and to establish a religious school in a northern
Yemeni town, and has recently indicated that more foreign
travel by Yemeni Jews will be permitted.
There are no indigenous Christian Yemenis. Foreign Christians
and the Indian-origin Christian community of Aden are
permitted, like Jews, to conduct private services, but churches
are not allowed. Indian Hindus maintain temples in Aden, which
benefit from some government support. Foreign clergy are not
allowed to proselytize, but some teach or work in social
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Freedom of travel within Yemen, guaranteed by the Constitution,
is respected throughout the country, although there are some
checkpoints on major roads. Foreigners are no longer required
to obtain prior permission for travel outside the capital.
The Yemeni Constitution provides for free emigration, and the
Government recognizes the importance to the economy of foreign
remittances from the many Yemenis who historically have sought
employment abroad. The right of return is also respected; in
1991 Saudi Arabia's decision to end Yemenis' immigration and
residency privileges resulted in the return to Yemen of an
estimated 750,000 to 1 million Yemenis. In spite of the
constitutional provision, Jews, with few exceptions, have been
unable to emigrate.
Procedures for obtaining passports and the necessary exit visas
are sometimes onerous, especially for Yemeni men who have not
completed their military service. Travel by a small number of
Yemeni Jews, especially to the United States for medical and
educational purposes, began in 1990 and increased somewhat in
1991. Senior Yemeni officials, including President Saleh, have
publicly reaffirmed the right of all Yemenis to travel abroad.
Although precise numbers are not available, an estimated 10,000
refugees dislocated during civil wars in Somalia and Ethiopia
have been granted asylum in Yemen. About 1,100 Eritrean
refugees from Ethiopia remain at a camp near the coastal town
of al-Khawkha. Because of the existence in Yemen of a
substantial population from the Horn of Africa, many of these
refugees have been able to find work in the Yemeni economy.
The Government closely monitors all political activity by
Many of the Palestinians who arrived in Yemen from Lebanon in
1982-83 have departed; the remainder live in camps near Sanaa
and Aden and are closely watched by security services. The
movement and activity of the Palestinians are restricted,
particularly in the north. Palestinians residing in Aden have
traditionally enjoyed greater freedom of movement and
activity. Palestinians have been able to develop businesses in
the north which have provided some employment opportunities.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
Although the citizens of the YAR and the PDRY were not able to
change their governments peacefully, the citizens of the
unified Yemen will now, in theory, have that right under the
new Constitution which provides for multiparty parliamentary
elections with secret ballot and universal adult suffrage.
This right will be tested for the first time by November 1992,
when the Constitution calls for holding elections for a united
Yemeni Parliament.
All the top leaders of the YAR and PDRY remained in power after
unification. Even before unification, while technically
illegal in both the YAR and the PDRY, new political parties
began to organize. Article 39 of the Constitution, which
allows freedom of association for political, professional, and
labor organizations, is generally interpreted as permitting
political parties. In October the Yemeni Parliament passed a
political parties law. Parties were restricted to the extent
that their programs could not oppose the Islamic religion or
the goals of the Yemeni revolutions, or violate Yemeni
international commitments. A committee is to be established
which will judge whether any of these principles have been
violated. The law also provided for government financial
support for recognized political parties and allowed parties to
establish their own newspapers. More than 40 parties had been
formed by year's end.
Under the arrangements in force during the 30-month
transitional period, the transitional Parliament is charged
with enacting new laws to unify ministries, other government
bodies, and legal codes until the first unified Parliament is
elected. The 301-member transitional Parliament consists of
159 members from the former YAR Consultative Assembly, 111
members from the former PDRY Supreme People's Council
(including 10 women), and 31 specially appointed members. The
Constitution gives broad powers to the Parliament: these
include electing the Presidential Council, withdrawing
confidence from the Government, cjuestioning the Prime Minister
and government ministers, ratifying international agreements,
and approving the budget. The transitional Parliament has also
asserted its authority by vetoing several government-sponsored
bills or demanding their modification. It has been vigorous in
questioning representatives from government ministries on
budget and policy matters.
A five-member Presidential Council with broad executive powers
has been functioning since Yemeni unification. Its chairman is
the former YAR President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and its vice
chairman, the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) Secretary General
Ali Salem al-Bidh. The Council appointed Haydar Abu Bakr
al-Attas Prime Minister in May 1990, and he formed a
39-ministry government with approximately equal representation
between northerners and southerners. In addition, a 45-member
Consultative Council was appointed by the Presidential Council
to advise the Government on broad policy issues. This body is
not called for in the Constitution but is a transitional
institution which is expected to disappear at the end of a
30-month period.
The majority of members of Parliament, all members of the
Presidential Council, and most government ministers belong to
one of Yemen's two dominant political organizations, the former
YAR's General People's Congress (GPC) and the former PDRY's
YSP. However, there are distinct groupings with overlapping
agendas within the Parliament: rightists. Socialists,
traditional tribesmen, technocrats, and Muslim activists.
Although the transitional Parliament is not organized on a
party basis, some of the parties other than the YSP and GPC are
represented in it.
Women may vote and hold office without restriction, although
this right is limited by cultural tradition.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
An officially sanctioned human rights organization exists as a
committee of the Parliament. In May it met with
representatives of Amnesty International (AI). Attempts to
form a nongovernmental human rights organization have been
frustrated both by government opposition and infighting between
leftists and Muslim activists.
The Government permitted AI to investigate prison conditions
and allegations regarding political prisoners during October
and November of 1990. In the past, neither the YAR nor PDRY
had permitted any organization to investigate possible human
rights violations.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution prohibits any discrimination based on sex,
color, origin, language, occupation, social status, or
religious belief. In fact, however, the remaining small Jewish
community does suffer discrimination and is fearful of
persecution by extremist groups.
Although Yemeni Jews generally enjoy good relations with their
Muslim neighbors, there was religiously inspired agitation
against the Jewish community in the town of Raydah. Violent
incidents do occur periodically, especially in the
countryside. There is no indication, however, that such
agitation is inspired or condoned by the Government. Yemen's
Jewish community traditionally looked to local tribal chiefs
rather than the central Government for protection. Although
this practice still continues to some degree, the Government
also recognizes its responsibility to protect the civil rights
of the largely rural, isolated Jewish community, both at the
local level and through the intervention of senior government
officials in Sanaa. Jews generally travel freely within
Some Yemeni citizens with a non-Yemeni parent do not enjoy the
full range of constitutional rights. These people, known as
muwalladin, face both institutionalized and informal
discrimination. For example, the Constitution requires that
members of the Presidential Council be "born of Yemeni
parents." Sanaa University, administered by the Government,
applies the same restriction when hiring teaching and senior
administrative staff, as does Yemen's military academy in
selecting applicants. However, discrimination against
muwalladin is not universal or pervasive. Many senior
government officials, including ministers, are muwalladin.
Some muwalladin complain that they are required to pay
substantial bribes to receive residency permits, passports, and
other official documentation. Another smaller group known as
akhdam, the descendants of former slaves, also faces persistent
social discrimination.
Although the Constitution provides for equality under the law,
significant restrictions on women are imposed by culture and
tradition and by law. The Government has not yet passed a
unified family law. Consequently, the original YAR and PDRY
laws remain in effect. YAR family law has been dominated by
tribal customs and local traditions, influenced and modified by
Shari'a law. Polygamy is allowed, husbands may divorce their
wives without justifying their actions before the court, and,
in cases of divorce, both the family home and the children
automatically go to the father. There are frequent cases of
child marriage in the more traditional, rural areas. The
institution of dowry payments is widespread. The amount of
payments is steadily increasing in spite of government attempts
to limit their size.
The post independence PDRY government enacted legislation to
emancipate Yemeni women. A 1974 law, modeled after the divorce
law of Tunisia, restricted polygamy by requiring permission of
the court for a second marriage, prohibited child marriages,
and provided for a considerable degree of female protection,
including equal rights in divorce. However, the protections
afforded by this law were considerably weaker outside of Aden,
where tribal custom often prevailed.
In Aden women now work in middle-level jobs in several
ministries and also in banks and other businesses. Yemen's
largest factory group employs women on the same pay scale as
men, and women there have risen through the ranks to lower
management positions.
There are female judges and lawyers in Aden. The unified
Parliament voted in September 1990 not to discriminate by sex
in enumerating the qualifications for judges, prosecutors, and
Societal pressures often force women to defer to the guidance
of male colleagues and the general supervision of male
relatives. Women seeking exit visas are often asked to prove
that male relatives do not object to their travel. Education
for women in significant numbers began in the YAR only at the
end of the civil war in 1970; education for women in the PDRY
was more advanced. An estimated 85 percent of all Yemeni women
are illiterate, compared to 46 percent of all men.
A form of female genital mutilation, clitorectomy, is practiced
in the Red Sea coastal region, the Tihama, especially among
Yemenis of African origin. The extent of the practice is
unknown. While some individual government health workers in
the Tihama actively discourage clitorectomy, there is no
government directive or guidance against the practice.
Conservative social mores prevent public discussion or
government acknowledgement of the practice.
Wife beating and other physical abuse of women occurs in Yemeni
families, but there is virtually no public discussion of the
subject and little is known about its extent. The female
victim usually turns to her male relative to pressure the
perpetrator to stop the abuse; she may seek a legal remedy in
court, but social traditions usually impel women and their male
relatives to seek mediation and keep the matter within the
extended family.
The government-sponsored women's associations of the former YAR
and PDRY, which promoted female education and civic
responsibilities, merged in 1990.
 Section 6 Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
As the united Yemen has not yet enacted a new labor code, the
Labor Codes for the former YAR and PDRY remain in effect for
their respective parts of the country.
In both the YAR and PDRY, labor unions were closely controlled,
if not organized by the Government. Under the YAR Labor Code,
a union may be set up by 100 or more workers upon application
to and approval by government authorities. The Code prescribes
a single union system with one union committee per enterprise,
one union branch per locality, one general union per economic
sector, and one national umbrella organization, which was the
Yemeni Trade Union Confederation. Government employees and
some categories of farm workers are excluded from union
membership. Under the YAR Labor Code, the Council of Ministers
may dissolve trade unions without judicial action. It also
prohibits unions from engaging in any political activity, and
their financial records are subject to government oversight.
YAR trade unions were reported to be under heavy security
forces' influence and were not known to challenge the
In the YAR, labor-related legislation neither allowed nor
disallowed strikes. In late 1990, a strike by engineers in the
Ministry of Public Works was put down violently by ministry
police forces. In the first part of 1991, a strike by oil
workers in the fields operated by an American company was
settled after negotiations involving the workers, the company,
and senior Oil and Labor Ministry officials.
In the PDRY, the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), the
only labor association, was under close YSP control. There
were a number of strikes in southern Yemen in 1990. In the
spring of 1991, strikes against the high cost of living were
threatened in Aden, but a work stoppage was averted through
negotiations. The YAR and PDRY labor confederations merged in
1990, forming the Yemeni Confederation of Labor Unions (YCLU).
The YCLU is affliated with the International Confederation of
Arab Trade Unions and the Communist-dominated World Federation
of Trade Unions.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Although the YAR Labor Code calls on employers to treat workers
collectively, it does not contain provisions to ensure worker
protection against acts of discrimination by employers, nor
does it provide for a system of collective bargaining. There
are consequently no formal collective bargaining agreements
now in force. Unions do negotiate wage settlements for their
members and have often resorted to strikes or other job actions
to achieve their demands. Frequent strikes by the petroleum
(tanker truck) drivers transport union are believed to have
resulted in substantial wage increases over the past year.
Pilots for Yemenia, the national airline, have also sought
higher wages and cost-of-living adjustments through collective
bargaining. According to the Labor Code, collective agreements
must be registered and may be unilaterally revoked by the
Government if they do not conform with the security and
economic interests of the country.
The YAR was criticized by the International Labor Organization
(ILO) for portions of its Labor Code that conflict with ILO
conventions. Until a new labor code is passed for unified
Yemen, workers in the north enjoy limited protections under the
YAR Labor Code. In the PDRY, the State, through the
YSP-controlled unions, purported to represent the rights of the
workers. There was no collective bargaining, and there were no
nongovernmental bodies that addressed labor grievances.
Nevertheless, the wave of strikes in 1990 necessitated
bargaining between workers and state management.
A small special export processing zone in the port of Aden
remained inactive.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor is forbidden by the Constitution,
and there are no reports of it in practice.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
There was no minimum age for employment of children in the YAR,
but compulsory education requirements—when enforced—limited
the employment of children. These rec[uirements were generally
ignored, however. Labor by minors aged 12 to 14 was regulated
by the Labor Code. In the PDRY, the Labor Code prohibited the
employment of children (defined as between 7 and 12 years of
age) and young persons (between 12 and 16 years of age).
However, apprentice employment of young persons aged 14 and
older was permitted.
Throughout Yemen, child labor is common, particularly in rural
areas. For the most part, it is sanctioned by family tradition
and it is not uncommon to see children working in workshops or
stores. In the south, child labor often occurs on family,
cooperative, and state farms.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There was no established minimum wage in the YAR. In the
former PDRY, the labor laws set a minimum wage which provided a
worker a minimal standard of living. The prevailing daily wage
for unskilled labor in Yemen allows a very modest standard of
living for a worker with a family.
YAR legal codes prescribe a maximum 8-hour workday (6 during
Ramadan) , but some workshops operate 10- or 12-hour shifts
without penalty. The YAR Labor Code does not prescribe the
number of workdays, only that the maximum workweek consist of
48 hours. The PDRY Labor Code stipulates a 42-hour workweek.
These rights are not widely enforced in either part of Yemen.
The Ministry of Labor in the YAR investigated complaints of
alleged violations and, if found valid, sought restitution from
the employer. Enforcement of the Labor Code is more prevalent
against foreign employers of Yemeni workers.
Little attention is paid to health and safety standards in
either part of Yemen. In the past, the YAR government set
general safety requirements for the larger concerns but only
occasionally checked compliance. There was legislation
regulating conditions of labor in the PDRY, but there was no
agency for effective enforcement.