Wednesday, January 21, 2009

UAE considering "gag" law on bad economic news

This doesn't sound good. Wall Street Journal:
The United Arab Emirates plans to crackdown on media freedoms amid a slew of bad headlines about the impact of the global financial crisis on the Persian Gulf state's economy and corporate scandals in Dubai.

A new 45-article law, which was introduced by the National Media Council, the government arm responsible for all media affairs, was presented to the country's Federal National Council to replace the 28-year-old Publications Law.

The law, which is still at draft stage, will introduce a system of fines, ranging from 50,000 U.A.E. dirhams ($13,600) to AED1 million, for damaging the country's reputation or its economy, according to a copy of the legislation published in local media Wednesday.
The National also has coverage:
Despite protecting journalists from imprisonment and guaranteeing the anonymity of sources, the draft law drew criticism from some in the media and lawyers for being vague.

Under the proposed law, journalists and newspapers who damage the reputation of the UAE, or publish material that harms the national economy, can be fined and banned.

However, Dr Qubaisi said that had to be read in context. While the law stated that publishing news that misled public opinion or harmed the national economy was punishable, truth could be used as a defence. It was false information that was “knowingly” printed that was deemed a violation.
...

Addendum. Fake Plastic Souks goes back and compares the new law to the old law (1980) and writes that you can "wonder for yourself at how much has changed."
And he notes he notes the new law is as archaic as the old in at least this respect: the law makes no reference to the 'e-world' and remains firmly rooted in the idea that 'the media' is content produced by licensed entities that squash ink onto dead trees and that would be held to account according to the terms of their trade license.
Addendum 2. Some say the West is becoming increasing comfortable with regulation of speech:
“What we’re learning here is really the bedrock difference between the United States and the countries that are in a broad sense its legal cousins,” Mr. Steyn added. “Western governments are becoming increasingly comfortable with the regulation of opinion. The First Amendment really does distinguish the U.S., not just from Canada but from the rest of the Western world.”
Addendum 3. Gambia gives a British couple a year hard labor for sedition.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Keefieboy said...

I'm so glad I no longer live there. Whatever is written locally may be subject to this vague but draconian censorship. But journos and bloggers from outside the country can say what they want - it's official, President Obama (how good it feels to write that phrase) told us so yesterday.

Dubai is headed into deep recession, whether it likes it or not. Better to roll with the truth than try to deny it.

*This comment was written by an EU resident and does not necessarily represent the views of the poor blog owner.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It there any truth that Sama Dubai has closed ?

7:57 PM  
Blogger Phaedrus said...

This new law is a huge step backwards for freedom in the UAE. It seems that the government still lives in area were the state controls the media, and it ignore the basic nature of the net.

As for Obama, I will wait and see. Has Spain released the journalist it has in prison yet?

9:35 PM  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Phaedrus: que?

2:11 AM  
Blogger The Spear said...

How can one encourage investors to come here when there is no freedom of speech, information etc.

I don't know...my advide is that the UAE has to drastically change these things if they want to suceed in the new world.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Phaedrus said...

@Keefieboy:

I will leave you in your serene ignorance.

@Anony:

Where they ever really open?

8:26 PM  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Phaedras: that's less than helpful.

12:27 AM  
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1:48 AM  

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