In the recent past, many cases have been reported concerning defamation with the help of the social media in the UAE. There is no difference set out when one looks at derogatory statement on the social media and the derogatory statement published on newspaper or any book. Owing to the easy accessibility and an informal nature of the social media, the publishers of such defamatory comments face more serious penalty when compared to the defamation over print media. The reason behind the same is that the effect of defamation on social media will be much greater and heinous as compared to the traditional print media.
The government of the UAE has established a criminal charge for the act of defamation, i.e. for any defamatory comment, which can be named or unnamed. Unlike the western countries, in UAE it is considered as a criminal offense. The two primary offenses of defamation are mentioned in the UAE penal code under article 372 and 373. When a person faces public hatred or contempt due to any publicity, it is covered under 372. On the other hand, when a dishonest allegation is made on a person which is malicious in nature and which results in the humiliation of the person in the public is covered under article 373.
The things that the complainant has to prove is as follows:
The comment was fake as well as derogatory
The comment was made in front of the third party.
The complainant had to face damage due to it.
According to the court of Cassation of UAE that a person can be forced to face defamation or can even be subjected to the punishment in the society due to the defamatory statement. The court was of the view that if the criticism crosses the “normal limits” and even have an ill-effect on the reputation of the government then it shall be referred as a defamatory statement.
An accused if proven guilty will have to serve in prison for upto two years or will have to pay the fine upto AED20,000. in case the defamation is done against any public servant, the court tends to increase the punishment. If this defamation is made against any of the religions, then the accused will be charged under another offense and thereby will be charged with different punishment. The civil remedy for defamation is absent in case of the crime of defamation, but under the law of torts, the complainant can take a recourse and can file for a civil damage.
Defamation under the Cyber Law
Under the cyber crime law, if a defamatory remark has been passed through the way of social media or through any other e-means is an offense. Article 20 of the law provides that “ any person who by using a computer network or any information technology means insults another of an incident which shall result in the other being a subject of punishment or contempt, then such person shall be considered to have committed an offence under this law.”
In order to prevent such defamation and a wrong against the public morality, the UAE government has passed a law which requires the social media influencers to have a licemse first. Social media influencers are the ones who create individual identities for the exchange of money by posting on various platforms of social media.
A regulation was laid in 2018, i.e. Electronic media activity regulations 2018, mainly focusing on individuals and the companies associated with “E-media”. in the regulations it was mentioned that the social media influencers will have to take certificate from the National Media Council, in case they accept paid advertisements. The citizens as well as the residents will have to apply these rules thoroughly.
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