UAE Escalates its Crackdown on News Portal, Blocks Fars News Agency

Cairo: 11 July, 2016

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned blocking the Arabic Language website of Fars News Agency in UAE by the Emirati authorities yesterday, 10 July 2016.

On its website, Fars News Agency announced yesterday that the authorities in the United Arab Emirates has blocked its online portal because of what they described as “the agency’s affiliation to the Iranian government and the propagation of rumors against the Arab countries”. Whoever attempted to access the Fars News Agency’s Arabic website in the country of Emirates, a message appeared says “Access to this site is currently blocked in UAE”.

A few days ago, noteworthy, the authorities in UAE blocked the British-based website Middle East Eye (MEE). Also on the 29th of lase December, access to three other news portals were blocked, including the Arabic-language “Noon Post” and Al-Araby Al-Jadeed”. And in earlier period, the authorities blocked “Emasc”, “UAE 71” and “Arabi 21” in addition to other Arab and international websites affiliated to civil society organizations.

It’s also worth to mention that some Arab countries in the Gulf region started to ban the news agencies’ websites alongside other news portals that are addressing the news of Shiite minorities in the Gulf region. In September 2015, for example, the authorities in Saudi Arabia blocked access to the Arabic website of Fars News Agency in KSA, besides the Lebanese “Al-Manar” TV channel in last January against the backdrop of Nimr Baqir al-Nimr’s execution.

According to “#Turn_around_and_Go_back” Internet report issued by ANHRI, UAE ranked 13 among 19 Arab countries on Internet freedom index.

Blocking access to Fars News Agency in UAE is a violation of the right to Internet access. The ban decision, which came in light of a severe deterioration in freedoms currently witnessed by the country, should be reversed. Despite the fact that the United States of Emirates has not yet ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it is a state party to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, Article 32 of which guarantees the right to information as well as freedom of opinion and expression”, ANHRI said.

ANHRI calls on the authorities in UAE to lift the ban imposed on Fars News Agency website in the country, and to enable Internet users to have access to the Internet without any kind of censorship or tutelage. ANHRI also demanded to give citizens the full opportunity to express their opinions and beliefs as well as their right to access information from its sources by halting the attack on the right to Internet access.

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