Bahrain 'sets a model in media freedom'
Manama, May 10, 2014
Bahrain has set a model in respecting Press and media freedoms in compliance with the constitution and international media and human rights conventions.
An official Information Affairs Authority (IAA) source affirmed the kingdom's commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees freedom of expression and opinion.
Press and media institutions in Bahrain exercise their duties in a transparent manner without any constraints, other than regulations stipulated in the constitution, national legislation and international conventions and under the reform and democratic projects that aim to enforce the rule of law, the source said in a statement.
"The Press law provides protection for journalists. No journalist has been sacked arbitrarily, murdered, jailed or detained for exercising his constitutional right of freedom of expression. No Press or media institution has been shut down for the above reasons. On the contrary, the number of newspapers has increased from four in 1999 to 12 dailies and weeklies. The law bans any confiscation or closure of newspapers or revocation of their licences unless by court rulings," the IAA source said.
A High Authority for Information and Communication was established last year to monitor media content and advertisements, to ensure freedom and independence of all forms of mass media and communication.
Bahrain's economic freedom and investment climate have a positive impact on the media, with laws allowing the establishment and issuance of newspapers which are all independent and owned by private companies, it said, adding that the government does not interfere in the editorial line of any newspaper.
The audio-visual media sector remains open to all categories to express their opinions in freedom and objectivity, except incitement of divisions and hatred, the statement said.
The draft Press law opens the door to establish private radio stations and TV channels, it said. Websites in Bahrain remain free and open, with no curbs on social media, the source said.
It denied that any journalist had been arrested in Bahrain. "None of the names cited is considered as a journalist under Bahrain's laws, as they don't work for any of the media institutions, their names are not registered with the Bahrain Journalists' Association, nor do they have the licence to exercise the profession.
"It is illogical to consider as journalists Internet and mobile phone users, " it said.
"The convicts were not indicted by the judiciary for exercising their constitutional right of freedom of expression. They were convicted for crimes, including the incitement of violence, terror and hatred, or for violating the law in a way that threatens social security and peace as well as public order, in addition to their involvement in crimes that include insults and defamation."
The IAA source also stressed the independence of the judiciary, adding that human rights organisations have all the freedom to receive complaints and grievances.-TradeArabia News Service