In November (perhaps, as a welcoming gesture to the ITU conference), the UAE issued by decree (without public debate, comment periods, or other democratic niceties) a new law making it a crime to deride, insult, mock or criticize, by using the Internet, the leaders of the UAE. Or perhaps the UAE issued this decree to celebrate its recent appointment to the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC). After all, nothing expresses a country’s respect for humans rights (and/or the UNHRC) like a decree making online criticism of the government punishable by a three-year minimum jail sentence.
The UAE fits surprisingly well with its peer group on the UNHRC. Some other members (with their press freedom rankings) are: Ethiopia (127th), Gabon (101st), Kazakhstan (154th), Pakistan (151st), and Venezuela (117th). Somehow the UN failed to include Saudi Arabia (158th), where adult women need permission from a male guardian to leave the country — perhaps it can join the UNHRC next year.