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Kuwait scores high on media freedom.

Doha: Qatar ranks third in a press freedom report on the Arab region released yesterday by the Amman Centre for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS).

Mauritania and Kuwait topped the list of 18 Arab countries. Syria, Saudi Arabia and Libya occupy the lowest ranks.

Supervised by Yahia Shukkier, a journalist and prominent press freedom activist, the report denounces a setback in the level of media freedom in the region with the recent endorsement by Arab information ministers of a new charter controlling the contents of media broadcasters.

"We in the ACHRS believe the Arab Information Ministers wanted to bestow a legal status on the document so as to have the opportunity to punish the satellite channels or radios that violate the principles contained in the document and suspend transmission. This is tantamount to placing restrictions on media workers and violates the right of citizens to know and to receive information and ideas," stated a report, a copy of which was made available to Gulf News.

The report is the result of questionnaires compiled by journalists in Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Palestine, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, and Yemen.

Oman, Somalia, Djibouti, and the Comoro Islands were excluded from the study as the Centre was unable to conduct the survey because of reporters' safety issues, it said.

The report shows Arab countries have failed to reach a state of legal and practical compatibility with the international criteria of the freedom of the press and the best democratic practices. It recommends a number of measures, including revoking imprisonment penalties on journalists, amending Arab penal laws, respecting the right of citizens to know and guaranteeing the right of criticism of civil servants, public figures, and parliamentary deputies by the press.

"Arab countries should also abandon the mentality of trusteeship and hacking of websites, and to understand the technological developments in the world," it added.

How free is the media in the Arab world? *****

Rank ***** Amman Centre for Human Rights Studies study ***** Reporters Without Borders study *****

***** ***** *****

1 ***** Mauritania ***** Mauritania *****

2 ***** Kuwait ***** Kuwait *****

3 ***** Qatar ***** UAE *****

4 ***** UAE ***** Qatar *****

5 ***** Lebanon ***** Lebanon *****

6 ***** Morocco ***** Morocco *****

7 ***** Jordan ***** Palestine *****

8 ***** Bahrain ***** Bahrain *****

9 ***** Iraq ***** Jordan *****

10 ***** Palestine ***** Algeria *****

11 ***** Sudan ***** Sudan *****

12 ***** Yemen ***** Yemen *****

13 ***** Algeria ***** Tunisia *****

14 ***** Egypt ***** Egypt *****

15 ***** Tunisia ***** Saudi Arabia *****

16 ***** Syria ***** Syria *****

17 ***** Saudi Arabia ***** Libya *****

18 ***** Libya ***** Iraq *****

Source: Amman Centre for Human Rights Studies *****

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Mar 21, 2008
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