It is with utter sadness that I learnt that journalist Mr. Saleh Al-Amm was handed a 3 month prison sentence or payment of a fine as the court found him guilty of libel in a case brought against him by Ms. Fatima Buali, the ex-manageress of the Almanar Home for the Elderly.
This prison sentence is rather ominous, and will further stifle the already fragile freedom of expression in Bahrain and will push its press freedom index further down the list. This will ultimately affect the country’s reputation in international circles and might very well affect the level of trust internationals will have for doing business in Bahrain.
What the courts and the government should realise is that a free press is a major component of a modern society. With freedom of speech and expression societies can elevate themselves as it aids in the country’s and society’s development and transparency. A free press is not an enemy of the state, but quite the contrary, it is a full partner that contributes to the stability of the country.
Mr. Al-Amm is not the only one who was presented to the judicial authorities due to his exercising of his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression, another journalist, Mr. Mu’ath Al-Mishari was also presented to court on another libel case.
I extend my full support to these gentlemen and shall stand with them against this unfair law and call, once again, for it to be retooled to fully reflect His Majesty’s vision of reforms for the Kingdom.