The ruling regime in the UAE continues to pursue repression and arbitrariness with media freedoms, devoting a tyrannical authority that does not allow the other opinion.
The UAE has a public authority called the National Media Council, and other local bodies in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and Sharjah, but what is remarkable here is that with this media intensity witnessed by the Emirates, it may not reveal its openness in this field nor about freedom of the media.
As the UAE system tightens its grip on the media, the country knows that it has the worst levels of press freedom, according to the World Press Freedom Index.
In addition to the arrest and detention of a number of journalists and media workers such as Ahmed Mansour, Nasser Ghaith, and Osama Al-Najjar, and other penalties that may amount to the withdrawal of citizenship and exile. How can a country that lives in such a climate combine these contradictions?
Last year, the UAE continued to fall sharply on the ladder of the global ranking of freedom of the press, ranking very late in the annual report of Reporters Without Borders.
The 2019 International Organization report showed that the UAE ranked 133 out of 180 countries around the world after it got 43.63 out of a hundred points.
This means that the UAE retracted five full places from the 2018 ranking announced by Reporters Without Borders, in which Abu Dhabi ranked 128th on freedoms in the world.
This is considered as a new scandal for the Emirati regime, which promotes it as an arena of freedoms and raises the slogan of tolerance and human rights in a propaganda framework that does not relate to reality, as the periodic reports issued by international organizations demonstrate.
“The United Arab Emirates has become a pioneer in electronic surveillance for journalists who have become permanent targets after the e-crime law was passed in 2012,” RSF said in its report.
“Citizen journalists and bloggers have become a target of the authorities in the UAE as soon as they provide any criticism. They are usually accused of slandering and abusing the state and of spreading false news in order to harm the image of the country, threatening them with heavy prison penalties and being subjected to ill-treatment.
The international organization cautioned that although the UAE constitution guarantees freedom of expression, the system can source domestic or foreign publications whenever it includes criticism of internal politics, ruling families, religion, the country’s relations with its partners, and also the country’s economy, in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Law of 1980 on publications and publications.
In its report, the international organization highlighted poor online surveillance in the UAE, aimed at restricting freedom of opinion and expression and systematic repression.
The international organization said that the UAE “is a professor of online surveillance for journalists who are often victims of the 2012 cyber-crime law.”
She stated that citizen journalists and bloggers are usually targeted to criticize the regime in the Emirates, and they are accused of defamation, insulting the state, or spreading false information with the aim of harming the country’s reputation.
She added, “they risk imprisonment for long periods and may be subjected to ill-treatment in prison. While the constitution guarantees freedom of expression, but under the 1980 printed law and publications, authorities can impose censorship on local or foreign publications if they criticize local policies, the economy, ruling families, religion, or the UAE’s relations with Its allies.”
The authorities of the United Arab Emirates control the media through the National Media Council, which follows the Council of Ministers in accordance with Federal Law No. 11 of 2016, and its decisions are only enforced after its approval.
In light of the control of the security mentality in dealing with the media and freedom of opinion and expression through a series of laws that represent a sword hanging over all who express their opinion about the internal or external policy of the state, the Emirati media do not have the ability to exercise freedom of opinion and expression as much as they practice misleading, Because these methods are subject to the strict management and control of the State Security Agency, “the gatekeeper,” who struggles to keep his word the only and dominant word in the media and social networks.
Since the official media are subject to the supervision of the State Security Agency, citizens resort to expressing their views on social networks, but the UAE regularly participates in online surveillance of journalists and activists who are often victims of the 2012 e-crime law. This made them vulnerable, according to my report to the center. International Justice and Human Rights on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.
The law in the UAE stipulates prison penalties and heavy financial fines for anyone who criticizes state policy or demands for reforms via the Internet, a criticism by human rights activists, who pointed out that the control imposed by the UAE authorities on the Internet and the press has multiplied, and it has intensified its efforts to silence dissidents, and limiting their right to freedom of expression.
According to these laws, media organizations must abide by the regulations and controls issued by the council, as well as provide information and data required by the council to achieve its purposes in violation of the right to maintain the confidentiality of press and media sources guaranteed by relevant international standards.