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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Sharing accident photos in Qatar is now punishable by up to two years in jail

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Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: DaveLawler / Flickr

Qatar’s Emir has approved new legislation that metes out jail time and fines for those caught taking, recording or sharing photos and videos of accident victims.

Law №4 of 2017 amends some provisions of the Penal Code with regards to breaching someone’s privacy without their consent.

It increases the penalty for breaking the law from one year to up to two years in jail. It also doubles the potential fine to up to QR10,000.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Paperema/Flickr

Article 333 previously pertained to offenses such as opening someone’s correspondence, eavesdropping on phone calls and recording or transmitting private conversations.

But according to the Gulf Times, it now also includes two more provisions:

“Taking or transmitting photographs or video clips of accident victims using any kind of device — unless legally permitted — and taking or transmitting photographs or video clips of an individual or group of individuals in a public place through any device with the aim of using these for abuse or defamation.”

High-profile cases

The Cabinet has been discussing amendments to the penal code for at least two years.

In September 2015, it approved legislation that explicitly criminalized taking photos of the deceased or injured without permission.

Such images are considered “human and moral” defamation and go against “social and religious” values, attorney Mohammad Al Hagri was quoted as saying earlier that year.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Abdulla Almesleh

The draft legislation was recently revived, even though residents who take such photos or video can already be punished under Qatar’s privacy and cybercrime laws.

These laws apparently came into play during two high-profile incidents in 2015.

In October of that year, a person was arrested for sharing dramatic footage of a deadly traffic accident that involved two teens and a sewage tanker.

Sheraton accident scene

And a month later, two people were arrested for posting a video of a young man smashing into a Rolls Royce at the Sheraton Grand Doha hotel.

However, it remains unclear what those involved were charged with or what penalties they faced.

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