On UNESCO International Day for the Universal Access to Information, ICFUAE calls on end to censorship in UAE
Today, on the UNESCO International Day for the Universal Access to Information (IDUAI), the ICFUAE calls on the UAE government to end censorship and ensure public access to information whilst protecting fundamental freedoms in relation to it.
The IDUAI is in line with Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development agenda, which is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
The UAE ranks 119 out of 180 countries in the ‘World Press Freedom Index’, which reflects the dire situation concerning government restrictions around the access and dissemination of information. Since the 1980s, the Publication and Publishing Law has been regulating all aspects of the media. Domestic media is tightly controlled and influenced by UAE authorities. Many news websites are blocked, such as the Middle East Eye, The New Arab, and al-Araby, due to their reporting on human rights violations in the country.
A whole chapter of the Publications and Publishing Law lists material prohibited from being published, which includes anything critical of the government, its ruler and its allies. Violating any of these articles is punishable by a prison sentence, and there are many ‘Prisoners of Conscience’ in UAE jails serving sentences for the crime of voicing dissenting opinions.
As the Sustainable Development Goal rightly points out, the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies is crucial for sustainable development. In order to move towards the achievement of this goal, the UAE must adhere to the promotion of basic freedoms with regards to information and access to justice.