The UAE’s ranking in the world press freedom index has fallen by more than 15 places since 2008. Why?
October 21, 2009 1:38 by Aarti Nagraj
Press freedom in the UAE has deteriorated further, with the country falling to the 86th spot on the latest annual world press freedom index released by Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday. The country, which shares its ranking with Uganda, was ranked 69 in 2008 and 67 in 2007.
However, the UAE has performed better than most others in the region; while Kuwait was ranked 60, Qatar 94, Oman 106, Bahrain 119, and lastly, Saudi Arabia was very close to the bottom of the index at 163.
One likely reason for the UAE’s declining press freedom ranking could be the draft media law that the country has been mulling over in the past year. In April 2009, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report entitled Just the Good News, Please: New U.A.E. Media Law Continues to Stifle Press, in which it urged the UAE government to review the draft media law. The report claimed that the draft law had several irregularities, and that it would promote self-censorship among journalists.
The HRW report was mainly concerned with article 32, which penalizes journalists up to AED5 million for ‘disparaging’ government officials, and article 33, which penalizes journalists up to AED500,000 for harming the nation’s image and reporting ‘misleading’ information on the economy.