Freedom of the Press

Qatar

Qatar

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

61

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

24

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

21

The law does not provide for freedom of the press, and there are criminal penalties and jail sentences for libel. Despite the government's lifting official censorship on the media in 1995, because of social and political pressures, journalists continue to practice self-censorship when reporting on government policies, the ruling family, or neighboring states. However, general scrutiny of the government and its policies is common and tolerated. The five daily newspapers are all privately owned, but board members and owners either are government officials or have ties to the government. Qatar is the home of satellite news giant Al-Jazeera, which became well known around the world for its reporting in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States. Although Al-Jazeera's critical coverage has angered a number of Arab regimes, the station tends to shy away from covering sensitive political issues within Qatar. In October, the Supreme Court sentenced a Jordanian journalist to death after convicting him of espionage. The International Federation of Journalists has expressed fears that the trial was unfair and that the punishment is an attempt to silence journalists.