By Neeraj Gangal
Court holds comments posted about an article published in the mag as defamatory.
A UAE court has ruled that an online magazine be shut down for one month and ordered to pay AED10,000 ($2723) in damages for defamation, according to a report on Saturday.
The Gulf News daily reported that the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals also upheld the lower court's ruling of a AED20,000 ($5445) fine against Hetta, the first UAE e-magazine, which was established in 1996.
According to Gulf News, Hetta's editor, Ahmad Mohammad Bin Gareeb, has been convicted and fined Dh20,000 in a case filed by the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) following online comments posted about an article published in the magazine.
The comments were considered by the complainant and the Public Prosecution as slander and defamation, the daily added.
According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (
), the case is based on an article published by the magazine in its issue No. 55 on May 4, 2009, under the title "Abu Dhabi TV: Emirate TV only in name" by the writer Enas Borini.
The article criticised the way the Emirate TV channels are being administrated. The article did not exceed the permitted criticism, but the chairman of Abu Dhabi Media considered comments on the article "defaming him" and filed a complaint to the General Prosecution, ANHRI said.
The court had fined the editor of "Hetta" AED20,000 on 7 September and considered him responsible for comments posted on the website.
Meanwhile, Abdul Hamid Al Komaiti, lawyer of the defendant, told Gulf News that he will challenge the ruling before the Federal Supreme Court. He has 30 days to file with the court.
Al Komaiti said shutting down media outlets violates freedom of press and freedom of expression, the daily said.
"This does not match the UAE's effort to establish the value of freedom of expression and freedom of press, through the abolition of imprisonment in publication cases.
"It is essential to expand those rights to include comments posted by readers and visitors of websites, which are not written by journalists or website officials. Those comments show interaction of readers and visitors with published articles."
If someone wants to fight back criticism or defamation he should first consider answering back finding arguments that prove that the journalist is wrong and afterwards file a case. By filling a case to the courts not only he risks losing credibility but decision taken against the freedom of speech soon or later is going to backfire.
Unfortunately, the person criticised who took the legal action, all he has done now is prove to everyone that the criticism whatever it may be actually holds water to an extent. TV channel heads shouldn't take legal action, they should accept it as one person's view and accept that others will differ. If no one complained about TV channels, programmes wouldn't improve. At least the Abu Dhabi actually received publicity, good or bad publicity are both good. Because people will tune it to make up their own mind. And this is from a local magazine no less. Anyway what's done is done.