Amnesty International slams new Qatari law restricting freedom of expression

Amnesty International on Monday expressed concern over a vague new law that threatens to “significantly restrict freedom of expression in Qatar.” (Shutterstock)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Amnesty International slams new Qatari law restricting freedom of expression

  • The law was issued by Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani
  • Amnesty say law threatens to “significantly restrict freedom of expression”

LONDON: Amnesty International on Monday expressed concern over a vague new law that threatens to “significantly restrict freedom of expression in Qatar.”

The law, issued by Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, authorizes the imprisonment of “anyone who broadcasts, publishes, or republishes false or biased rumors, statements, or news, or inflammatory propaganda, domestically or abroad, with the intent to harm national interests, stir up public opinion, or infringe on the social system or the public system of the state.”

The law comes just two years after Qatar acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a UN agreement that guarantees individuals the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s research director for the Middle East, said: “Qatar already has a host of repressive laws, but this new legislation deals another bitter blow to freedom of expression in the country and is a blatant breach of international human rights law.”

She called it “deeply troubling that the Qatari Emir is passing legislation that can be used to silence peaceful critics,” adding: “Qatar’s authorities should be repealing such laws, not adding more of them.”

Under the new law, “biased” broadcasting or publishing can be punished with a fine of over $25,000 or up to five years in prison.

The new legislation joins laws introduced in 1979 and 2014 that Amnesty International says arbitrarily restrict freedom of expression.


Lebanon ex-PM Hariri murder tribunal to give verdict August 7

Updated 4 min 46 sec ago

Lebanon ex-PM Hariri murder tribunal to give verdict August 7

  • Hariri, who was Lebanon's Sunni Muslim prime minister until his resignation in 2004, was killed in 2005
  • The alleged mastermind, a Hezbollah commander, was indicted by the court but is now believed to be dead

THE HAGUE: A UN-backed tribunal into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in a huge car bombing in 2005 will deliver its long-awaited verdict on August 7, the court announced on Friday.
Billionaire Hariri, who was Lebanon's Sunni Muslim prime minister until his resignation in 2004, was killed in February 2005, when a suicide bomber detonated a van next to his armoured convoy on the Beirut seafront.
Another 21 people were killed and 226 injured in the assassination, with fingers pointing at Syria which had long been a power-broker in the country.
The Netherlands-based court said it "issued a scheduling order today for the public pronouncement of the judgment" in the case against four suspects from Lebanon's Shiite Muslim fundamentalist group Hezbollah, who are being tried in absentia.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the hearing "will be delivered from the courtroom with partial virtual participation", it said in statement.
The tribunal was created by a 2007 UN Security Council resolution at Lebanon's request, and the four defendants went on trial in 2014 accused of core roles in the attack.
Salim Ayyash, 50, is accused of leading the team that carried out the bombing, while Assad Sabra, 41, and Hussein Oneissi, 41, allegedly sent a fake video to the Al-Jazeera news channel claiming responsibility on behalf of a made-up group.
Hassan Habib Merhi, 52, is accused of general involvement in the plot.
The alleged mastermind, Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, was indicted by the court but is now believed to have died while leading the militia's forces fighting with the Syrian regime in May 2016.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has refused to hand over the suspects and warned the tribunal "don't play with fire" while Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad says it is a tool to "pressure Hezbollah".