Embrace social media, Clooney urges
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