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Despite the Prime Minister's declaration earlier this year that journalists should not be jailed for their work, authorities have managed to find other ways to silence the press in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), says a new report by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRInfo).

"Officials try to keep the wall of censorship high for non-professional reasons, which are not in keeping with the open-minded spirit sweeping the country," says the report.

HRInfo points to recent examples of the government's attempts to muzzle the media, such as the shutting down of two Pakistani channels that broadcast out of Dubai, as documented elsewhere in the "Communiqué".

Other examples include:

Footage of a 20 November protest of Islamic teachers decrying their suspension and transfer to non-educational jobs was blacked out by most media outlets, a decision believed to be taken by high-level authorities.

A play about the fatal relationship between a poet and a dancer that was to be featured at the Gulf Theatre Festival in Doha, Qatar was yanked from the lineup just hours before the cast and crew were to travel to the festival. The Ministry of Culture and Media said the play did not represent the reality of local youth.

Emirati writers continue to be banned from writing and publishing - whether it is a media outlet's refusal to run a story, as was the case in October of the newspaper "Khaleej" rejecting an article on university reforms by one of its own staff - or a writer being put on a government blacklist and banned altogether.

And although journalists can't be jailed for their work, they are still being sued in court. Staff of the banned website are currently facing four lawsuits for defamation.

To read the full report, visit:

(4 December 2007)

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