Qatar bans court reporting without prior permission

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Dubai, Oct 5 (UNI) A local court in Qatar has banned journalists from covering court stories without obtaining prior permission from the courtroom presidents.

The decision, highly criticised by the local Arabic and English dailies, was a serious setback for media freedom in Qatar as coverage of court stories had exposed the public to crimes of officials and individuals alike, Gulf news quoted a journalist as saying.

''The Supreme Judicial Council has issued a decision restricting the entry of scribes into criminal, appeal courts and the Court of Cassation, the country's highest court, for the purpose of reporting,'' the Peninsula, a local English daily, wrote in a front page news article yesterday.

''Local newspapers will not be able to file court stories and proceedings any more as the judicial authorities have imposed a ban on the entry of journalists into courtrooms,'' it added.

Local Arabic daily Al Sharq also quoted a statement by the Supreme Judicial Council as saying that ''If the decision is violated by any journalist, it would be tantamount to breach of law.'' UNI

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