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Emarat Al Youm suspended as of today

Arabic daily has to shut down temporarily after defamation ruling by Supreme Court

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Arabic daily newspaper Emarat Al Youm and its website will be suspended as of today for 20 days, in conformity with a court ruling.

The ruling was issued by the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal and upheld by the Supreme Federal Court in a defamation case against the Arabic daily, suspending it for 20 days and fining both Sami Al Riyami, Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper, and Abdul Latif Al Sayegh, Chairman of the Arab Media Group as publisher, Dh20,000 each in a case raised by Warsan Stables' owners.

The case stemmed from an article published in October 2006 accusing Warsan Stables of giving steroids to horses during a race in Abu Dhabi.

The administration of Emarat Al Youm yesterday received an official letter from Ebrahim Al Abid, Director of the National Media Council (NMC), to this effect.

The NMC received instructions from the Attorney General's Office, instructing the implementation of the punishment.

Mohammad Yousuf, Chairman of the UAE Journalists' Association, told Gulf News that media circles were disturbed by the suspension, especially when the UAE media is witnessing a qualitative leap and development.

Suspending a newspaper does not conform to the leadership's vision, Yousuf said, adding that he does not object the ruling of the court and respects it.

"The judge has to abide by the law, and unfortunately, publication and publishing law No 15 for 1980 states suspension, closure and withdrawal of license as punishment, and so does the draft media activities law approved by the Federal National Council (FNC) on January 20th," Yousuf said.

"This is why we still call for scrapping all articles that stipulate suspension, closure and withdrawal of license as punishment from the new draft law," he added.

"We accept accountability, because journalists are human beings who make mistakes and accept to rectify their mistakes and any subsequent damages resulting from violation of the law," Yousuf said. "However, liability in cases of opinion, expression and publishing must be limited to four rules: correction, apology, fine and compensation," he said.

"These are tough punishments against journalists and newspapers, which ensure that any affected party would regain his right. They are also based on the legal principle of individual punishment, unlike suspension, which is a collective punishment," Yousuf added.

A statement from AMG Holding said: "As has been declared by the Federal Court of Appeal, the Arabic daily publication Emarat Al Youm has been temporarily suspended for a period of 20 days from July 6, 2009. Arab Media Group and Awraq Publishing are committed to the laws and regulations of the UAE and will fully adhere to the court's decision with immediate effect."IFJ decision criticised

A statement from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) read: The IFJ is disappointed after the decision of the authorities in United Arab Emirates to execute a ruling by the Supreme Federal Court to suspend the Emarat Al Youm newspaper. The subject and the circumstances do not justify the closure of a newspaper for 20 days.

- Staff Report