Freedom of the Press - United Arab Emirates (2004)

Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 27
Political Influences: 25
Economic Pressures: 23
Total Score: 75

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 74
Religious Groups: Muslim [Shia (16 percent)] (96 percent), other (4 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Arab and Iranian (42 percent), other [including South Asian, European and East Asian (58 percent)
Capital: Abu Dhabi

The constitution provides for freedom of the press. However, the government restricts this right in practice. The law prohibits criticism of the government, ruling families, and friendly governments, as well as other statements that it considers threaten social stability, and violators are subject to imprisonment. Consequently, journalists commonly practice self-censorship; the leading private print media outlets frequently publish government statements without criticism or comment. While the main pan-Arab dailies are available and uncensored, other foreign newspapers, magazines, and periodicals are vetted by censors at the ministry of information and culture. The broadcast media are almost entirely state-owned and offer only official viewpoints. However, Dubai features a Free Media Zone, where few restrictions are imposed on print and broadcast media produced for foreign audiences. Satellite dishes are common, and international broadcasts are not explicitly censored. Internet access is widespread, although the authorities censor pornographic, radical Islamic, and antigovernment sites.

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