Rights watchdog praises Ofcom decision to penalise UAE channel over forced confessions

Rights watchdog praises Ofcom decision to penalise UAE channel over forced confessions
Doha-based National Human Rights Council (NHRC) welcomed the decision by Ofcom, which has now penalised Abu Dhabi TV twice this month.
2 min read
24 November, 2020
Ofcom acknowledged that Al-Hamadi's interview was broadcast against his will [Youtube]
A rights watchdog has welcomed a decision by the UK’s broadcasting regulator to penalise an Emirati TV station for airing the forced confessions of a Qatari national detained arbitrarily in 2013.

Doha-based National Human Rights Council (NHRC) praised the move by Ofcom against what it said were the "deliberate, dangerous violations" of the "most fundamental principles" of human rights by Abu Dhabi TV and UAE authorities.

Ofcom ruled that an interview with Qatari national Hamad Al-Hamadi aired by the station on 22 June 2017 entitled "Confessions of a Qatari intelligence traitor on a UAE smearing campaign" was a severe breach of its impartiality rules as well as those concerning privacy.

The regulatory body said Abu Dhabi TV, which is licensed by Ofcom, will be penalised for violating broadcasting codes. Details of the punishment which will be known in upcoming weeks.

It also acknowledged that Al Hamadi, subject to torture and ill-treatment when languishing in Abu Dhabi’s prison, was interviewed "against his will" for a documentary which fabricated a Qatar-led disinformation campaign against the UAE.

Read more: Trump 'prioritising' end to Qatar blockade in next 70 days

The move is the second to target the TV station this month.

Ofcom ruled that the UAE-based channel violated its politics by airing the interview with Mahmoud Al-Jaidah, a Qatari medical doctor also detained in 2013 and confirmed it would impose legal sanctions.

NHRC called the first decision “a historical precedent that paves the way for deterring such channels from using the media to spread hatred, spread lies and promote gross human rights violation”.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in 2017 and imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on the Gulf state claiming Doha supported extremist groups and its ties to Iran - Saudi Arabia's regional arch-rival.

Qatar vehemently denies the charges.                

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