COVID-19 Is New Pretext for Old Tactics of Repression in GCC

Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), specifically Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to continue pre-existing patterns of suppressing the right to freedom of expression in 2020. Starting in March 2020, as the virus began to spread in the GCC, all of these governments have issued statements to all people in the country warning of criminal liability for publishing “false news” or “spreading misinformation”, and in many instances have prosecuted individuals who posted content on social media about the pandemic or the government’s response.

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