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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Sharing accident photos could violate Qatar privacy laws, lawyers warn

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar residents who post gruesome videos and photos of car accident victims online could face legal consequences, local lawyers have said following a spate of recent crashes in which such media was shared.

However, the attorneys acknowledged that while it may be against privacy laws to tweet and post such images on Facebook, Qatar’s legal system does not typically prosecute those who do so.

Speaking to Doha Newsformer justice minister Dr. Najeeb Al Nuaimi said that those who publish videos or photos of victims or pictures related to the personal lives of others without their consent or their family’s approval could be penalized under Qatar’s judicial system.

The criminal attorney added:

“This is considered a violation of the privacy of people and families … It’s (also) a violation of people’s civil rights,” he said.

Referring to the passage of last year’s cybercrime law, he pointed out there is a penalty of three years in jail and/or a maximum fine of QR100,000 ($27,460) for “anyone who violates principles and social values, or publishes news, pictures, videos or audios regarding the sanctity of individuals’ personal or family life, even if it were true … online or using IT equipment.”

Enforcement questions

However, Al Nuaimi said that he did not know of any current court cases relating to these crimes. The attorney speculated that families of the victims may find it difficult to pinpoint the origin of pictures and videos that go viral on social media.

But another local attorney, Mohammad Al Hagri, told Al Raya this week that if a complaint was filed, security forces could easily track down the original poster through his or her service provider.

He added that posting pictures of dead bodies and injured victims is considered a “human and moral” defamation and goes against “social and religious” values.

An image from the Ministry of Interior’s Metrash2 promotional video.
An image from the Ministry of Interior’s Metrash2 promotional video.

The warnings come as Qatar continues to encourage vehicle passengers and pedestrians to take photos and report rule-breaking motorists.

Some residents said they fear landing in legal trouble for taking photos of bad drivers.

However, traffic experts say those who submit photos through the Ministry of Interior‘s official Metrash2 app will not face any sanctions.

Chilling effect

Rights groups have said the problem with such laws is that they could prevent residents from pointing out corruption.

For example, in 2013, the UAE arrested a man for posting a video on YouTube of a government official attacking an expat driver. After the video went viral, the official was also arrested.

Dubai police explained at the time that the defendants should have privately sent the video to authorities without sharing it online, the BBC reports.

Meanwhile, in the US, several amateur videos in recent months highlighting police brutality against unarmed civilians have spurred investigations against officials there.

In Qatar, the public prosecutor’s office recently launched a campaign encouraging residents to report corruption and graft to the authorities.

New public prosecution campaign
In a play on the famous maxim of the three wise monkeys, who “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” this public prosecution ad features two men and a woman pantomiming, “I hear, I see and I speak.”

At the same time, the country’s criminal courts have shown a willingness to convict individuals who publish personal attacks online. Last month, three parents were convicted of defamation after they insulted their children’s principal on Facebook.

However, media law expert Matt Duffy told Doha News last month that such cases are better handled by the civil, rather than criminal, court system.

He argued that the risk of financial penalties are effective in dissuading individuals from making harmful and defamatory statements. The threat of jail time, by contrast, can “squelch discussions of matters of public importance,” he added.

Thoughts?

15 COMMENTS

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Shaiju
6 years ago

Insane, Privacy law is insane in all aspects

Fu
Fu
6 years ago
Reply to  Shaiju

I hope you will be filmed under a truck one day and the video will be sent to your family 100 times in a minute.

sicti
sicti
6 years ago
Reply to  Fu

Rude comment.

greg
greg
6 years ago
Reply to  Fu

You are an idiot

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Fu

Deleting for attack.

Spirit
Spirit
6 years ago

Why would I post a photo of somebody trapped in some wreckage on Facebook? Some things are just too tasteless and macabre. And yes, some of these laws may appear extreme compared to other countries but when you make a choice to live in a country that is not your own, you can’t just bulldoze your way through their laws.

Big Sumo
Big Sumo
6 years ago

I don’t know how I feel about this, I’ve always believed in freedom of information, expression, not hiding the truth of humanity. But the death of lady at the Olympic bus stop (some of you will notice the AC bus stop gone and replaced) was widely circulated at my workplace, which was barbaric and disgusting. Instead of offering first aid to a expat woman with severed legs after a high speed 4wd crashed into the bus stop in West Bay, bystanders chose to record a woman dying. It was then widely circulated around Doha. Humanity is dark.

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  Big Sumo

Agreed. I am usually for unregulated laws when it comes to self expression, however literally a few hours ago I watched a woman on a motorcycle get hit by a car. Most people just stood there circling her and staring as she screamed in pain. I could not speak the native language but tried to calm her down while this Russian guy tried to get the gathered crowd to call the ambulance as neither of us could describe the location.

I went to get her some water from a nearby store which was a few minutes away, and came back to a much larger crowd just surrounding this woman and gawking. I was utterly disgusted with how for most of them this was something to observe and aside from myself and the Russian nobody was doing anything to help her. So yeah, I can see people filming crap like this and sharing it for their own selfish reasons rather than for raising awareness, and I support the decision to criminalize such behaviour.

Ree
Ree
6 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

Its great that you help (expecially when most didn’t – which would also be traumatic for the victim) but just a wee medical thing be wary of offering water to victims of accidents incase they need surgery. Im sure a medical person could explain better – but in the numerous First Aid courses Ive done they say this. Of course in the heat here a little wetting of the lips might be appropriate – Im not criticizing just saying.

Jenny
Jenny
6 years ago
Reply to  Big Sumo

On the topic of helping injured people – After taking a first aid course here in Doha I was explicitly told that I should never provide first aid to anyone other than a family member in Qatar because there is no “Good Samaritan” law which offers legal protection. Therefore, if the person you treat ends up dying then you can be held legally responsible for blood money as well as jail time. I’m less concerned about the money but as a mother of two small children can’t risk being stuck in a Qatari jail. Does anyone know if this is true or is it scare mongering?

Expat77
Expat77
6 years ago

As an expat I don’t need freedom to post objectionable materials or pictures online which violates local laws. What I need is freedom to change jobs or go home for a break when I wish to…

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Filming people dying in a car accident is wrong, filing someone getting a beating on the road or beside the road is your duty.

Saleem
Saleem
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Agreed

movieman
movieman
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

watch the movie Nightcrawler (2014)

Doodz
Doodz
6 years ago

Why would take a photo nor videos if you see someone struggling for help… I don’t think people is stupid enough not to offer help.wheres the sense!!!!’

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