GCC editors welcome UAE’s no-detaining scribes decision


The editors said that greater press freedom is imperative for countries to progress, and pointed out that there is no clear law in most parts of the world giving journalists immunity.



“We appreciate this ruling as it is very important for our business in the region,” noted Mohammed Suleiman Al Taie, Editor-In-Chief of Arabic daily Al Watan newspaper and founder and chairman of the English daily, Oman Tribune. Al Taie added, “Journalists should not be jailed for doing their duty. So far, no journalists have been arrested in Oman and we would like to see that continue.” However, he stressed that a categorical law protecting journalists should be put in place in the Gulf and the rest of the world.



Hailing the decision, Abd Al-Rahman Alyan, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Kuwait Times, told Khaleej Times, “In Kuwait, there is no clear law that journalists cannot be jailed. While a person was detained for questioning recently, no one has ever been sentenced.”



In the same breath, Alyan stated that the Fourth Estate needed to be careful and use discretion while reporting. “Immunity does not mean you can write whatever you want. One has to be responsible and must not put national security at risk or liable or slander people,” he said.



Khaled Al-Maeena, Editor-in-Chief of Arab News, warned that while “freedom of expression is a God-given right”, journalists have to be cautious and accurate. Asserting that journalism in his country was far ahead compared to other Gulf countries, the Editor-in-Chief of the Saudi Arabian English daily added that the country had come a long way since the time journalists were detained and questioned 15 years ago.



While most concede that this is a landmark decision, George Williams, Editor of Bahrain’s English newspaper Gulf Daily News said Bahrain had spearheaded greater media freedom in the Gulf more than year ago. Williams said that since democratic experiments began in the country, it had been a free society.



“Parliament has been debating the Press law for sometime now. Though the law hasn’t been made yet, it has been a de facto arrangement since last year. Dubai’s been a bit behind in this one,” he said.


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