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Details of the new Publications and Publishing Law issued

Riyadh, 8 December 2000

The new Publications and Publishing Law, recently ratified by the Saudi cabinet, allows government bodies, educational institutions, research establishments, scientific societies, literary clubs and national organizations to issue non-periodical publications in their own sphere of specialization and under their own responsibility.

The law also permits the publishing of newspapers outside the extent of the national establishments, on license from the Ministry of Information, based on an approval of the chairman of the cabinet.

The stamp of the Ministry of Information is enough to issue bulletins of limited circulation and for non-sale purposes that serve the activity of the publisher including scientific and specialized vocational magazines, the law says.

The article on this issue emphasized that the supervisor of any of such publications and its director were responsible of its contents.

The 49-article law which was endorsed by the Saudi Council of Ministers on the 27th of November 2000, stipulated that any publication being granted license in the Kingdom should not contradict the Sharia law or undermine the stability or security of the country; should not serve foreign interests at the expense of the national interest of the Kingdom; should not provoke discord among citizens or defames individuals; should not curb personal freedom or defame any individualís commercial status; should not encourage criminal activity or instigate or any practices detrimental to the health of individuals or the economy.

Any publication should take care not to divulge the findings of investigations or the courts without the permission of the authority concerned and should confine itself to objective and constructive criticism, based on firm evidence, with the aim of realizing and preserving the public interest.

The law also confirms that the call to Islam and the spread of culture and science are among the objectives of publications and publishing.

Foreign newspapers could be published in the Kingdom, according to the new law, in compliance to the Executive Regulations of this law. The law says foreign publications imported in the Kingdom will not be censored if they are free from material which defames Islam or harms the state's supreme interest or is considered contrary to ethics of the people.

The freedom of opinion is secured by the law in all publishing means within the legislative and legal rules of the country, the law says.

The law also identifies the activities that are subject to its regulations. They are the publications, pre-publishing services, printing press houses, libraries, drawing, calligraphy, photography, importation, sale or lease of films, video tapes, audio records, disks, broadcasting, TV, cinema or theatrical production, TV and broadcasting studios, foreign media offices and their correspondents, propaganda and advertising, public relations, publishing and distribution, journalistic services, computer program production, sale or lease, studies, media consultancy, copying and any other activity to be annexed by the Ministry of Information and approved by the cabinet.

The law permits governmental organizations, educational establishments, literary and cultural clubs and journalistic establishments to import what they need for publication purposes. The Executive Regulation will organize the importation of foreign publications and their distribution as well as the necessary procedure to facilitate the carrying of books and other publications inside the Kingdom or subscription to them by researchers and others for professional purposes.

Except in an emergency, the local press will not be subject to censorship.

In approving scientific and intellectual works which are beyond the scope of its own personnel, the Ministry of Information is permitted to seek the assistance of whomsoever is academically and professionally qualified. The Ministry is also assigned by the law to draft, in collaboration with relevant authorities, the regulations for holding book exhibitions by the non-governmental publishing and distribution organizations.

Source: SPA


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 June 28, 2001 15:42:24