Bahrain: ranking one of the worst countries on media freedom
Journalist Support Committee (JSC) condemns the investigation of journalist Faysal hayat, Jaafar Al-Jamri and Ahmad Radhi in cases related to freedom of opinion and expression
The Bahraini government has summoned a number of human rights activists and journalists for investigation. Most of them were accused of “mobbing” in the town of Diraz, where an open sit-in was held next to the house of Sheikh Issa Qassim since June last year.
The prosecution issued a ban on the travel of the activists who were interrogated, which exceeded 30 activists, including journalist Faysal Hayat, the poet and journalist of Al-Wasat newspaper Jaafar Al-Jamri, who stated that he received a summon to be investigated by the prosecution’s office for cyber crimes, clarifying that the summon came without a warrant. For his part, the journalist Faysal Hayat stated on his twitter account, on Tuesday 25th of April 2017, that the public prosecutor’s office charged him with “participating in an unauthorized march in Diraz”, in which Mr. Hayat confirmed that he didn’t even enter the town.
On April 26, 2017, the public prosecutor summoned journalist Ahmed Radhi to be investigated and accused him of the same charges stated above. Mr. Ahmed denied all charges against him, telling the prosecutor that he was a victim of torture, and was unjustly imprisoned more than once, in addition, was banned from traveling repeatedly and that these new charges are null and unsubstantiated, stating that most of the charges were an attempt to justify the travel ban along with human rights and media activity restrictions.
This new campaign against activists, opponents and journalists come in anticipation with the universal periodic review, which will be held on the first of May, and after the discussion session of the government’s reports that were submitted to the UN Committee Against Torture, in Geneva, last Friday. And on Monday, another meeting of the Committee was held to hear the responses of the Bahraini government’s delegation to the questions raised by the Committee last Friday.
Furthermore, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued its annual report, confirming that Bahrain has dropped two more rankings from last year, holding rank 164 out of 180 internationally in press freedom, and its inclusion on the blacklist of countries with the worst media freedoms.
Thus, the Journalist Support Committee has issued the following statement:
“the investigation of the journalist and poet, Mr. Jaafar Al-Jamri, by the cyber crime prosecution, is a clear violation of article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
And of the international covenant on civil and political rights, which states:
The rights of article 19, like all other rights, are universal, inherent and inalienable.
In addition, the investigation of journalist Faysal Hayat and journalist Ahmed Radhi, and charging them with participation in an unauthorized march in the town of Diraz, constitutes a dangerous precedent on media in Bahrain, where journalists are subjected to restrictions on their freedoms, prevention from work, repeated harassment due to repetitive summons and questioning, obstruction of work and violations of the right to a peaceful assembly, and a breach of international conventions that protect journalists from any aggression and harassment, in addition, urges to guarantee a safe and secure environment for journalism.
Therefore, the Journalist Support Committee (JSC) condemns these repetitive violations against journalists in Bahrain, and calls upon the international community and human rights organizations to take necessary measures to denounce and condemn these violations against the media in Bahrain and to exert the necessary pressure on the Bahraini government to comply with international conventions, particularly covenants regarding freedom of speech and expression.
The Committee emphasizes the need for the government of Bahrain to respect the requirements of free media work and not to obstruct the work of journalists. As well as to lift all restrictions on freedom of movement and travel which is considered a violation of article 12 of the international covenant on civil and political rights.
Together to maintain freedom of opinion and expression
Journalist Support Committee - Bahrain
26 April 2017