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IAA: Bahrain sets a model in media freedom.

Manama-May9(BNA)Bahrain sets a model in respecting press and media liberties in compliance with the constitution and international media and human rights conventions.

An Information Affairs Authority (I) official source affirmed Bahrain's full commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom of expression and opinion which stipulates however that:

-"The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals. (ICCPR- Article 19)

-"Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law. 2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law". (ICCPR- Article 20)

-"The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (order public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. (ICCPR- Article 21)

The (I) source affirmed that press and media institutions in Bahrain exercise their duties in transparent and plural legal, political and economic environment, without any constraints whatsoever, others that the deontological regulations stipulated in the constitution, national legislations and international conventions and under the reform and democratic projects which aims to enforce the rule of the law, consolidate state institutions and bolster the democratic society.

"The law on press provides protection for journalists, criminalizes any affront or abuse of or arbitrary sacking of 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 was shut down for aforementioned reasons. On the contrary, the number of newspapers increased from 4 in 1999 to 12 dailies and weeklies nowadays. The law in Bahrain bans any confiscation or closure of newspapers or revocation of their licences unless by court rulings", the (I) source said.

The State Minister for Information Affairs said the new enlightened and comprehensive law of the press and communication which was referred to the legislative authority does not stipulate the imprisonment or deprivation of the freedom of journalists in case of publishing crimes. A High Authority for Information and Communication (HAIC) was also established in 2013 to monitor media contents and advertisements, with the aim of consolidating the freedom and independence of all forms mass media and communication in compliance with human rights and professional criteria.

The (I) official sources stressed the achievements of Bahrain, which ranked first in the Arab World and the region and the 13th in the world on the index of economic freedom as per the report issued by the US-based Heritage Foundation in 2014.

The economic and investment achievements have a positive impact on media in Bahrain, whose national laws allow the establishment and issuance of newspapers, which are all independent and owned by private companies.

The Government does not interfere in the editorial line of any newspaper. There is legal constraint whatsoever on issuing newspapers regardless of the political or intellectual affiliations or affinities. There is limit on issuing newspapers other that capacity of the market.

The (I) source said that the audio-visual media sector remains open to all social categories to express their opinions in total freedom and objectivity, except incitement on divisions and hatred. The draft law on press and communication opens the door to establish privately-owned radio stations and TV channels. The same source affirmed that internet websites in Bahrain remain free and opens, with no curbs on the social media.

The (I) official source denied, in the statement, that any journalist had been arrested in Bahrain. "None of the names cited is considered as a journalist under Bahrain laws, as they don't work for any of the media institutions and their names are not registered with the Bahrain Journalist Association (BJA), nor do they have the licence to exercise the profession".

"It is illogical to consider as journalists internet and mobile phone users, especially that the number of internet subscribers exceed by 128% the whole population of Bahrain. The proportion of mobile phones (most are smartphones) users exceed by 173% the population of Bahrain -- Meanwhile the proportion of internet users does not exceed 40% in the world according the 2013 statistics released by the he International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

"The convicts were not indicted by the judiciary in Bahrain for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression. They were rather convicted in penal crimes, including the incitement of violence terror and hatred, or for violating the law in a way that threaten social security and peace as well as public order, in addition to their involvement in crimes which include insults and defamation, which are all criminalized by the international law".

The (I) source stressed the independence of the judiciary in Bahrain, adding that human rights organisations have all the freedom to receive complaints and grievances, citing particularly the National Institutions of Human Rights (NIHR), the Ombudsman General Secretariat, the Commission on the Rights of Prisoners and Detainee and Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA). .

The Ministry of State for Information Affairs stressed His Majesty's firm stance in support of press and media freedom in Bahrain, stressing recent royal directives in his keynote address the International Press Freedom Day to fast-track the housing project for journalists, declare a national day for Bahraini press as the fourth estate represents a key pillar of the reform project.

The ministry cautioned all international organisations against sources which seek only to distort facts and sully the democratic and human rights achievements for their political and ideological designs in total violations in international professional and deontological norms and standards.

In its statement today, it urged international organisations and watchdogs to ensure accuracy and seek information from credible sources which abide by realistic and neutral standards in reporting facts in total transparency and credibility and in compliance with professional and ethical media norms. .

AHN

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Publication:Bahrain News Agency
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:May 9, 2014
Words:1072
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