Restrictions against Freedom of Expression in Bahrain Concerning
The International Gulf Organization (IGO) for Human Rights expresses its deep concern about restrictions on the freedom of expression of opinion in Bahrain. Recently the courts issued a summons to three editors-in-chief of daily newspapers in the country- the latest of which was issued to Yousef Albenkhalil, editor-in-chief of Alwatan daily newspaper because of an article that had been published in his newspaper.
Yousef received the summon to the prosecutor office through a notice addressed to the Head of the Bahrain Journalists Society. The notice was based on a report submitted by AL sheikh Abdelamir Aljamry’s sons and connected with the aforementioned article, which they consider as insulting to their father as the writer touched on the issue of a role played by a Bahraini cleric.
IGO reaffirms its support to Alwatan newspaper and its editor-in-chief and condemns the move to restrict journalists and their freedom of expression of opinion. Simultaneously the organization also rejects addressing any insulting or offensive remarks against any person or illegally accusing any person of wrongdoing.
IGO also expressed deep concern over the hunting down of journalists in Bahrain. Anwar Abdurrahman, editor-in-chief of the Gulf News newspaper, is currently facing trial before the supreme criminal court. Also Eisa Elshaijy, editor-in-chief of Alayman newspaper, is facing a charge launched by the State Ministry of Information because the newspaper had published a news item related to burning of one of the studios that belong to the administration of information affairs. These practices are not appropriate to the climate of freedom and democracy in Bahrain.
The Bahraini constitution guarantees all the liberties including the freedom of journalists to express their opinions. It is also protected by the global instruments of human rights; this is in accordance with article (19) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the article (19) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The regional agreements also guarantee freedom of opinion and the right to freedom of expression. This is clearly stated in article (10) of the European Agreement for Human Rights, which protect freedom of expression in all the member states, and article (9) of the African Covenant for Human and people Rights. In the American Agreement for Protection of Human Rights, article (13) also states that: “Every person shall enjoy the freedom of opinion and freedom of expression, this right includes his/her freedom to search for any form of information and to receive it and publish or pass it to others in any form, whether verbal, written or printed, or in any artistic means or any other methods selected by him/her.
The International Gulf Organization calls on the Bahraini government to deal with the ramifications resulted from practicing of freedom of expression through other instruments, and keep away from courts when dealing with such issues. The Organization also calls on the media outlets in Bahrain to observe national responsibility and carry out their duties in a way that guarantees respect for national interests and support peace building and democracy and establish the culture of tolerance.