Qatar government endorses draft media law that rules out jail for journalists

June 2, 2011

Qatar has approved a new media law amid expectations that it would be issued soon after it is ratified.

The government also endorsed the draft of another law which aims to regulate advertisements that are placed in the media. According to the media law draft, journalists will be free to write on all issues except those concerning national security and friendly countries, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported on Thursday.

The authority to licence and monitor the media is likely to be vested with the Ministry of Arts, Heritage and Culture, a move that media analysts see as an attempt to revive the pre-1995 censorship era, the daily said.

However, under the new draft laws, journalists cannot be detained by the law-enforcement agencies without a court order.

Presently, journalists facing defamation charges can be arrested without the need for a court order and charges can be filed against them by the public prosecution.

Journalists will also have the right to defend their sources unless a court orders them to divulge their identity.

The draft suggests that journalists cannot be jailed if found guilty of defamation, but would be fined by a court for up to QR50,000.

The culture ministry will have one department to license and monitor the print media and another to license and supervise the electronic media. It will “supervise” the hiring of Qatari scribes, while foreign journalists would be accredited by a committee at the ministry.

Foreign journalists must hold a degree in mass communication, the draft said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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