UAE has blocked citizens from accessing the Middle East Eye
In the latest clampdown on political dissent and calls for reform, the UAE have blocked their citizens from accessing the Middle East Eye (MEE) news website. The MEE has a history of reporting on the UAE’s political and military role across the region, alleged human rights abuses and the Gulf State’s covert relations with Israel. This is one of the latest examples of how the UAE denies its citizens access to the freedom of press and free speech. Other websites that have been affected by this clampdown are the Middle East Monitor and Al Araby Al Jadeed (English).
MEE reported that anyone who attempts to access the website in the UAE now receives this official message: “Access to this site is currently blocked. The site falls under the Prohibited Content Categories of the UAE’s Internet Access Management Policy.”
According to the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), in 2016 81% of blocked websites have content that "contradicts with the ethics and morals of the UAE" and 9% of blocked websites according to the TRA are "not in line with UAE laws".
Amnesty International have raised concerns that the UAE authorities have continued to arbitrarily restrict freedom of expression, and to arrest and prosecute government critics.
In addition to the extensive censorship and blocking of political content, the UAE has implemented the Cybercrimes Law since 2012, which imposes severe restrictions on freedom of speech in social networking, blogs, text messages and emails. It outlaws criticism of senior officials and demands for political reform. Violations of this law lead to imprisonment and heavy fines for publishing information which is deemed to be critical towards the state.
The imprisonment of government critics and reform activists, include human rights defenders, judges, academics, students, lawyers, and bloggers. Currently there are 200 such prisoners in UAE prisons, according to Dr. Safwa Issa, director of the International Center for Justice and Human Rights.