Qatar consolidates freedom of media with draft law
February 06 2019 01:39 PM
Qatar News Agency

QNA/Doha

The State of Qatar affirmed its keenness to support and develop the freedom of media, based on the political and social awareness of its people and its recognition of the right of its citizens to know the full truth.

The State has consolidated the citizen's right to free and constructive media in a manner that distinguishes the truth from rumours and false and fabricated news through a draft law regulating publications, publishing, media activities and arts, which was approved by the Cabinet last September.

The draft law was prepared in the framework of modernising legislation and keeping abreast of the technical and technological development in the field of publications, publishing, media activities and arts, and in support of the freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of the press and media in Qatar. It also comes in response the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which Article 19 provides that everyone shall be guaranteed the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has announced Qatar's accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

In an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Director of the Department of Publications and Art Works at the Ministry of Culture and Sports Abeer Shaheen Al Kuwari said that the new draft law stems from the State's keenness on the interest of society and on the regulation of work in the relevant institutions.

She noted that the draft law, which its legislative procedures will be completed after it was approved by the Cabinet until it will be finalized, includes provisions relating to the organisation of press, printing houses, the circulation of publications, publishers, the establishment and management of cinemas and theatres, the organization of works of art, film production, radio and television broadcasting, advertising, media services and public relations. One of the most important articles of this draft law is the emphasis on freedom of press and there are no prison sentences in publishing cases due to the freedom of expression, she added.

Al Kuwari pointed out that the draft law was prepared by the Ministry of Culture and Sports as the administrative authority competent to implement its provisions, whether in relation to publications, publishing and press or practicing in advertising activities, public relations, artistic production, artistic works and supervising actors operating in these areas through regulation, supervision and granting of licenses.

As for the reasons for the new legislation, she said that it came due to the great technical and technological development that affected the printing industry, artistic works , press, other media activities and arts.

It was also necessary to amend a number of articles of the current two laws and add a number of activities that were not previously organized such as film production, artistic production and radio and television broadcasting, she underlined, she said, adding that the new draft law incorporated the publications and publishing law No. 8 of 1979 and the decree law No.16 of 1993 on regulating the practice of advertising, public relations, artistic production and artistic works as the main legislations in the fields of the Ministry's work.

On the main features of the new draft law, Director of the Department of Publications and Art Works at the Ministry of Culture and Sports Abeer Shaheen Al Kuwari said that the draft law adopted some basic amendments concerning the press, which is considered one of the most important means of expression, in line with article 19 of United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

She noted that the importance of freedom of expression lies in three main aspects which are the respect for human dignity, free exchange of ideas and views and the flow of information.

The new draft law, she said, affirms the freedom of Journalists in accordance with the Qatari Constitution, United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adding that it also recognizes the general obligations of the journalist which represent in general the code of ethics of the press work.

The draft law adopted the establishment of a committee in the Ministry of Culture and Sports for the registration of journalists competent to accept the affairs of journalists and media professionals, she told QNA.

Provisions for publishing and electronic circulation have been added to the new draft in a number of its articles, Al Kuwari said.

In addition, articles concerning the establishment and management of cinemas and theaters were also introduced, she underlined, noting that the draft also introduced a chapter on audiovisual broadcasting.

Regarding the existence of facilities for the establishment of cinemas and theaters in the new draft law, Al Kuwari said that the current law actually grants licenses for such activities, and it comes for more regulation for these activities or other media activities.

She stressed that the department is responsible for implementing laws and regulations related to publications and publishing, studying and issuing the necessary licenses for press publications and issuing procedures in accordance with the regulated law, as well as issuing licenses for printing presses, publishing houses, bookshops, Import, institutions of publications' export and distribution, issuing business licenses in press, issuing licenses to practice journalism, issuing the necessary licenses to start printing publications, issuing licenses for advertising activities, public relations and artistic production and licenses for selling and distributing artistic works.

It is also authorized to approve the issuance and distribution of publications and leaflets of diplomatic and consular missions accredited to the State, in coordination with the relevant administrative units. (QNA)

Last updated: February 06 2019 01:49 PM


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