Further Undermines Media Freedom
Qatari authorities have blocked Doha News, the country’s only independent news website, in a move that undermines Qatar’s attempts to present itself as a center for media freedom in the Gulf region, Human Rights Watch said today. Doha News has been publishing news about Qatar online for six years, but on November 30, 2016, authorities there ordered Qatar’s two internet service providers, Vodafone and Ooredoo, to block the site, making it inaccessible to internet users in Qatar.
A Doha News spokesperson told Human Rights Watch that Qatari authorities said that the site’s reporting had upset “several” unnamed government ministries and cited concerns over its failure to formally register in Qatar. Doha News is registered and hosted in the United States, but its journalists live and work in Qatar. In October, Doha News published an editorial calling on the authorities to amend provisions of the 2014 cybercrime law to “preserve free speech and protect journalism in the country.”