Em­brace so­cial me­dia, Clooney urges

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - @Sar­watNasir sar­wat@7days.ae

Gov­ern­ments should re­spond to crit­i­cism made on so­cial me­dia with tweets and not prison sen­tences, the hu­man rights ad­vo­cate and in­ter­na­tional lawyer Amal Clooney has said.

Speak­ing at the In­ter­na­tional Govern­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Fo­rum in Shar­jah, Clooney said that so­cial me­dia has be­come a cru­cial part of to­day’s world and gov­ern­ments need to start us­ing th­ese plat­forms to com­mu­ni­cate with their cit­i­zens.

The Bri­tish-Le­banese lawyer, who is mar­ried to Hol­ly­wood star Ge­orge Clooney, said: “In a world where jour­nal­ists do their fact-check­ing on Twit­ter, gov­ern­ments must be pre­pared to be trans­par­ent and get their mes­sage out first.

“I can sug­gest that govern­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tions on hu­man rights should be vo­cal, should be con­sis­tent and quick.

“Be­cause this can help you safe­guard your rep­u­ta­tions, keep your is­lands, help in­no­cent men and women out of prison and avoid mis­un­der­stand­ings in a fast-paced on­line world.”

Clooney added that the world faces an un­prece­dented hu­man rights cri­sis and cit­i­zens, es­pe­cially young peo­ple, are “un­der­stand­ably cyn­i­cal” about their gov­ern­ments.

By Sar­wat Nasir

“I be­lieve that the youth of this re­gion de­serve to in­herit a so­ci­ety where a tweet crit­i­cis­ing a govern­ment is an­swered by an­other tweet, not a prison term,” she added.

“And where women play a full role in so­ci­ety and where gov­ern­ments con­demn tor­ture and mean it.

“I be­lieve in to­day’s world, the most im­por­tant govern­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tions will be where they re­in­force their prin­ci­ples.”

There have been sev­eral in­ci­dents in the Gulf re­gion where cit­i­zens were im­pris­oned be­cause of send­ing out tweets that crit­i­cised their gov­ern­ments.

In 2014, two men were sen­tenced to 10 years in prison in Saudi Ara­bia af­ter be­ing charged with en­cour­ag­ing protests on Twit­ter and “un­der­min­ing the coun­try’s lead­er­ship”.

A Bahraini hu­man rights ac­tivist Nabeel Ra­jab was sent to jail for six months for “in­sult­ing” au­thor­i­ties.

And in 2013, a woman was given a sen­tence of 11 years in prison af­ter send­ing tweets that “in­sulted” Kuwait’s emir and the coun­try.

AD­VO­CATE: Amal Clooney at the fo­rum in Shar­jah

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