The UN and the EU’s special representative on human rights have criticized Qatar for passing legislation curbing free speech.
Eamon Gilmore called the laws, which criminalize the spreading of “false” information, “vaguely worded.”
He said he had raised the issue with Qatar’s Foreign Ministry and the country’s National Human Rights Committee.
A 2014 law on cybercrime prevention originally allowed those convicted of offenses to be imprisoned for up to three years.
That upper timeframe was increased to five years for cases in which “ill intent” could be demonstrated.
The difficulty arises in the definition of “false news,” which is not specified in the law itself, leaving it open to liberal interpretation.
Gilmore said he is “concerned about some pieces of legislation which relate to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”
He added: “Freedom of expression is a very important part of the way in which the EU sees human rights. We attach a very high priority to it. We urge that those laws be amended, changed or withdrawn.”
Qatar’s cybercrime laws were raised by the UN during the country’s most recent Universal Periodic Review.
It said Qatar’s “lese majeste” laws on disrespect toward the country’s rulers violate citizens’ right to free speech.
This comes in the wake of criticism from international organizations in the build up to Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Human Rights Watch on Sunday said Qatar’s censorship of unpaid workers fell short of international standards, in the aftermath of a report that said many foreign laborers working on construction sites had gone unpaid for a five-month period, and had been threatened with arrest, deportation and non-payment of outstanding wages if they went on strike.