UAE draft media legislation for journalists hailed





Speaking to Khaleej Times, Mohamed Yousef, Chairman of UAE Journalists Association, said the decision, the first of its kind in the Arab world as well as in developed countries, comes in line with the instructions of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.



The UAE Journalists Association, following a meeting with chief editors of local newspapers, submitted several suggestions to the National Media Council to be considered in the draft law. Certain rules, as per the recommendations, are to be observed when applying for a newspaper licence. These are to be considered before final approval of the draft law, Yousef said.



"The law opens scope for a greater freedom of the Press. Journalists shall become more self-disciplined, stick to truth and steer clear of defamation," said Dhaen Shahin, Editor-in-Chief of Al Bayan.



"The draft law should be debated again by the Journalists Association and other concerned Press institutions to have their say before the final approval. The draft law should be posted on the FNC website for comment," Shahin added.



Sami Al Riyami, Editor-in-Chief of Al Emarat Al Youm, told Khaleej Times: "The law will enhance the UAE’s prestige in the international organisations concerned with Press freedom. The UAE will set an example for many countries which claim to be defending Press freedom though they still sentence journalists to jail."



Habeeb Al Saegh, Editor-in-Chief of Al Khaleej newspaper, said the draft law says nothing about the possibility of issuing licences to new newspapers. It neither prohibits nor permits that. This may be streamlined by the executive bylaw of the bill.



Mohamed Al Hammadi, Director of Publication with the Emirates Media Incorporated, said that Internet had made the media more open and available. "As such, we call for allowing more newspapers. The immunity of journalists from imprisonment is a real triumph for them."


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