SR 500,000 Fine, 1 Year Jail – if your Facebook Status is defamatory

Social media has become an integral part of our “Social” lives. Prior to the introduction of social media platforms, being social meant being out of the house, talking to people, being surrounded by people with whom you interact, or all the above. Yet like is the case with everything made for our convenience, we have yet again found a way in which to either abuse these services of convenience or to use it in a negative aspect rather than a neutral or positive aspect. Defamation on social media has become one of the most crucial and pressing problems being faced by both conservative and liberal societies alike. The image, respect, and integrity of every human being are held by their own person and other people should not act in any way which might negatively affect any of these.[irp]

Several initiatives had been taken which were aimed towards raising awareness on the issue, whereas laws had also been prepped to tackle this issue. If we talk about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia all those people who become victims of defamation on any social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, which can also include the use of video clips can now legally file a complaint against the crime at their local police station.

This announcement was made by one of the local attorneys. In accordance with the attorney, the penalty had been made up within provisions found in Article 3, paragraph 5 of the new law. The imprisonment time for this crime is set not to be exceeded from 1 year where as a fine of SAR 500,000 can also be imposed.

Saeed Al Omari spoke to the local daily and stated that from the police the case will then be handed to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution for Investigation and Public Prosecution where the proper investigation will be made into the case.  Article 9, paragraph 4 of Press and Publication law has prohibited abusing dignity or freedom of any other person along with blackmailing and even damaging to the reputation and/or brand names.

He continued that this issue can be addressed via committees which are based on rules of relevant committees to estimate the violations which have been made. The courts of Riyadh recorded a total of 151 defamation cases in the past year alone while last year the total cases amounted to 136. Tabuk had the second most number of reported cases of 32 cases.[irp]

Legal experts have stated that the first type of violation is concerned with any video clips of defamatory nature and are posted to social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. The violations are becoming an alarming occurrence in the Saudi society. Al Omari also believes that the penalty for this violation acts more like a deterrent; however, there is also a need to add on more severe punishments to effectively deter violators.

Source: Arab News