Last week's Ceremony of Foreign Press Association has sparked an online backlash after the annual event's sponsor was revealed as the Sultanate of Oman.
The event which was held in London on the 29th of November awarded ITV News's Robert Moore as the Journalist of the Year for 2021 in what has been described as a gesture of "recognition for Moore’s extraordinary reports."
Pure Orwell. Gulf dictatorship of Oman - which imprisons journalists + shuts down independent media - sponsored the FPA Media Awards.— Matt Kennard (@kennardmatt) December 3, 2021
ITV's Robert Moore, Journalist of The Year 2021, said Oman’s sponsorship showed "importance of supporting the press". 🤣https://t.co/NOUEVtQcgM
However, it was the fact that Oman is the sponsor of the annual event organized by the international organization that triggered social media comments over the credibility of the oil-rich country's sponsorship at a time it continues to rank low on global records when it comes to press and speech freedoms.
The Foreign Press Association (@FPALondon) has allowed its 'media awards' to be sponsored by the dictatorship of Oman 😂 whose dedication to free media is a similar to al-Qaeda's dedication to human rights. The absolute state of the 'mainstream' media.https://t.co/MzlM72k0P7— Mark Curtis (@markcurtis30) December 2, 2021
Freedom of expression is limited, and criticism of the sultan is prohibited. There are private media outlets in addition to those run by the state, but they typically accept government subsidies, practice self-censorship, and face punishment if they cross political redlines. The government has broad authority to close outlets, block websites, revoke licenses, and prosecute journalists for content violations, and it has used this authority on multiple occasions in recent years. - Freedom House on Oman
Oman, on the other hand, represented by its Ministry of Information Dr. Abdullah Bin Nasser al Harassi, expressed interest in sponsoring the event, saying that the country's government realizes the "importance of supporting the press and providing the necessary tools to practice the profession" and that its interest in sponsoring this event is "directly connected to the objectives of Oman's Vision 2040."
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