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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Doha welcomes Ofcom ruling against Abu Dhabi TV for ‘unethical’ interview


A UAE-based TV channel aired a recorded interview against the will of the key subject, Qatari citizen Dr Mahmoud Al-Jaidah.

The United Kingdom’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) has condemned Abu Dhabi TV for broadcasting an interview that allegedly contained confessions by Qatari citizen Dr Mahmoud Al-Jaidah, during his arbitrary detention in the Emirati capital in 2013.  

The recorded interview, titled “Mahmoud Al Jaidah and the clandestine organisation in UAE”, was aired by the channel against the will of Dr. Al-Jaidah, who was tortured while detained in UAE prisons, in a clear violation of human rights.

The interview was a clear breach of principles of privacy and media ethics, both of which are key codes of conduct, according to Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code. Ofcom’s decision also saw the channel hit with legal sanctions.

Read also: Saudi’s Al Arabiya to be tried in UK court over ‘false’ Qatar Airways video

Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) hailed the decision as a welcome move.

“The National Human Rights Committee of the State of Qatar welcomes the decision of the office of communications of the United Kingdom “Ofcom” to condemn Abu Dhabi TV channel for broadcasting a television interview that was recorded in the form of alleged confessions by Dr. Mahmoud Al-Jaidah (Qatari citizen), during his arbitrary detention in Abu Dhabi prisons in 2013,” said NHRC in a statement.

The decision to condemn and impose sanctions on the Abu Dhabi channel is considered “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 violations,” NHRC added.

The bold move also prevents the exploitation of licenses granted by countries and falsifying facts to promote certain agendas, the Qatar-based organisation said.

“Since his arrest, the NHRC followed up the case of Dr. Al-Jaidah and provided him with legal and psychological support in preparing the necessary files to prosecute those involved in the case, knowing that there is another case pending for resolution before Ofcom,” said NHRC.

Dr. Al-Jaidah filed a case in March 2018 against the UAE-based channel through his lawyer. 

The Abu Dhabi channel reportedly attempted to dodge the accusations and refused to respond to Ofcom’s initial probe, prompting the UK media monitoring authority to launch a formal investigation.

In a statement published by Abu Dhabi TV, the channel attempted to disassociate itself from the interview.

“The old administration chose to ignore the broadcasting organisation’s messages, but today under the new administration, it expresses its intention to cooperate with Ofcom,” Abu Dhabi TV said.

Dr. Al-Jaidah, a medical doctor at Qatar Petroleum, was arrested in Dubai in February 2013 and was detained until 2015. He had suffered abuse, isolation and mental abuse at the hands of the Dubai authorities, the rights organisation said.

“The National Human Rights Committee considers this decision as an initial step in achieving justice and redress for the Qatari citizen, who has been subjected to arbitrary arrest, torture and degrading treatment by the authorities in the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi TV which accused him and the state of Qatar of terrorism,” said NHRC.

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