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ANHRI condemns blocking of newspaper's website after UAE intervention

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 15 June 2011 - ANHRI condemns the blocking of the Mauritanian newspaper "El Badil Al Thalith"'s website due to pressure from Emirati authorities on the hosting company. The website, which is hosted by an Emirati company, published a series of articles criticizing Arab leaders before it was blocked inside and outside Mauritania.

Since 13 June users have been unable to access the website. Instead a message appears saying the account has been suspended by the hosting company.

In a statement published on 14 June, website personnel said that Emirates Technology and Design, the company that has hosted the site since its launch on 29 April 2008, justified the illegal procedure because in recent weeks it was under pressure from authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to block the website, which had criticized the Emirati government. The company declared that it was threatened with prosecution two days earlier and, as such, was obliged to cancel the contract unilaterally and without prior notice.

ANHRI said, "It is very worrisome that the Emirati government abused its authority by pressuring an Emirati company to block a website in another country because of its critical stance. This is a new procedure being used by Emirati authorities against freedoms, which may endanger freedom of expression in the Arab region."

ANHRI added "This is an arbitrary procedure by Emirati authorities in violation of the right to freedom of expression. This action is totally unacceptable and should be reviewed, especially since it is indicative of the ongoing deterioration in freedom of opinion and expression in the UAE."

ANHRI believes that the Emirati authorities should allow for the website to be reinstated, stop adopting policies of this nature that involve confiscations and blocking of websites, and respect human rights, especially freedom of opinion and expression, before they fall into a brutal pattern of forbidding pluralism and opposition.

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