'Attack on freedom of expression': UN slams Gulf's demand to shut Al Jazeera
The logo of Al Jazeera Media Network is seen during the annual MIPCOM television programme market in Cannes, France, October 17, 2016. Photograph: (Reuters)
The United Nations has voiced concern over Gulf nations 'unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion' by demanding Qatar to shut down Al Jazeera network, as well as other affiliated media outlets.
A spokesperson for United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, told a press briefing here on Friday, "The High Commissioner is extremely concerned by the demand that Qatar close down the Al Jazeera network, as well as other affiliated media outlets."
"Whether or not you watch it, like it, or agree with its editorial standpoints, Al Jazeera's Arabic and English channels are legitimate and have many millions of viewers. The demand that they are summarily closed down is, in our view, an unacceptable attack on the right to freedom of expression and opinion," added Colville.
The spokesperson said that if states have an issue with items broadcast on other countries' television channels, they are at liberty to publicly debate and dispute them but to insist that such channels be shut down is extraordinary, unprecedented and clearly unreasonable.
Last week, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt handed down a list of 13 demands to Qatar and gave it 10 days to meet the requirements in order to lift the blockade that the Gulf nations have imposed on the country.
The list included Doha to close Al Jazeera, scale back cooperation with Iran, remove Turkish troops from Qatar, end contact with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and submit to monthly external compliance checks.
He said that High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, therefore, urges all five States to take measures to solve this dispute in a calm, reasonable and lawful manners and to ensure that any actions they take do not impact on the human rights of their own and other countries' citizens and residents.