TABUK – Prince Fahd Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Emir of Tabuk region, has directed all government departments in the region to immediately respond to any false information in the media.
“All government departments should clarify any inaccurate information immediately because not doing so will imply that such information is true,” the Emir’s directive said.
The directive comes close on the heels of a letter from Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, addressed to all regional emirs asking them to quickly respond to any misinformation in the media. In his letter, Prince Naif cited a Royal Decree in this regard.
Some media outlets, according to the Royal Decree, publish inaccurate news that is nothing short of libel. They do so merely for the purpose of generating headlines. These reports are neither accurate nor objective and they do not provide any supporting evidence for their claims.
“Such media outlets abuse the freedom of speech granted to them and do not fulfill their role which is to offer constructive criticism in the interest of the general public,” the Royal Decree said.
In his directive, Prince Fahd said if any misinformation is not tackled immediately and properly, it would have a negative effect on the performance of the concerned government departments. This, in turn, might cause citizens to lose confidence in the services provided by them, he said.
“A government department may file a lawsuit against a newspaper as per applicable regulations if the latter does not abide by the standards of constructive criticism,” the Emir said.
A recent amendment to the Saudi Press and Publications Law stipulates that responsible persons in the publishing sector are bound by objective and constructive criticism based on facts and that this criticism should be in the interest of the public.
It adds that establishments found guilty of violating this law will be asked to shut down temporarily or permanently. If the violation is less serious, the establishment which publishes false information or accusations will be asked to publish retractions and apologies. — SG/SPA