Bahrain passes law to prevent leaks
Manama, February 25, 2014
A new law designed to prevent government leaks was approved yesterday by Bahrain's Shura Council.
It had been shelved last month due to differences over its content, but was passed after amendments were made to the government-drafted bill, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Critics initially claimed it contravened the public's right to information and it will now be referred to parliament for further review.
The new legislation classifies information as "top secret", "secret" and "limited/classified".
Under the amended law, government officials who leaked "top secret" information could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to BD5,000 ($13,118).
Officials who leaked "secret" information to the public could be jailed for up to seven years and fined up to BD3,000.
Individuals not employed by the government who leaked "top secret" information could be jailed for up to seven years and fined up to BD3,000.
Meanwhile, those leaking "secret" information could be jailed for up to five years and fined up to BD2,000.
Anyone who acquired secret information through illegal channels could be jailed for up to 10 years, while computer hackers or people trying to enter prohibited areas to steal information could be jailed for up to five years.
Leaks from companies in which the government has more than a 50 per cent stake could also be prosecuted.
However, officials would be allowed to announce "top secret" or "secret" information in part if valid reasons are stated.
"We can't underestimate secrets in each ministry, for example the Finance Ministry has a lot of documents that can't be leaked to the public," said the council's foreign affairs, defence and national security committee secretary Nancy Khadouri.
"The information revolution can be good and bad - it could lead to more transparency and at the same time jeopardise the country." - TradeArabia News Service