Only journalists accredited by the Saudi Journalists Association will be allowed to work in the country, according to instructions issued by the Kingdom’s Cabinet, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
“Some non-specialised poor writers and journalists have managed to publish incorrect news regarding the activities of some ministries and government bodies,” the Cabinet said, before laying out a set of new rules.
As part of the new guidelines, ministries, public institutions, commissions and governmental bodies in Saudi Arabia will have to appoint official spokespersons at their main headquarters and report their names to the Ministry of Culture and Information.
These bodies also need to increase media coverage about their activities, projects and services, maintaining necessary channels with media organisations, said the report.
“If it is proved that a media organisation dared to publish incorrect news about a governmental body and ignores explanations about that issue, the governmental body will have the right to resort to the concerned authorities to adjudicate in such cases and file a lawsuit against the media organisation and journalist in accordance with the regulations and instructions,’ the Cabinet said.
Saudi Arabia has been strongly criticised by global journalism bodies for its lack of press freedom.
Earlier this month, the Kingdom ranked eight in a list of the top ten countries in the world imposing censorship on the media.
The list, prepared by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), included nations such as Eritrea, North Korea, Syria and Iran.
Saudi Arabia featured on the list because it “has tightened restrictions in response to political unrest” in the region, said CPJ.