Tag Archives press-law

جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية تستنكر محاكمة البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف

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ندعو الصحافيين للإحتشاد أمام المحكمة

الجفير – جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية – الأحد الموافق 15 ابريل 2007
تدعو جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية جميع المنتمين للجسم الصحافي في البحرين إلى الإحتشاد والتضامن مع البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف، وذلك أمام المحكمة الجنائية الكبرى يوم غد الثلاثاء القادم الموافق 17 أبريل 2007 في القضية المرفوعة ضده من قبل وزير البلديات منصور بن رجب.

هذا وتهيب الجمعية بجميع الصحفيين التواجد في قاعة المحكمة وإعلان تضامنهم مع اليوسف تجاه هذه القضية التي تستهدف حرية الرأي والكلمة في البحرين. وتعلن عن إستنكارها لإصرار الوزير في إقامة دعواه ضد اليوسف، خاصة وأن موضوع الدعوى يتعلق بمقالة إنترنتية كان اليوسف يتناول فيها الوزير بصفته الإعتبارية لا الشخصية. كما وتدعو الجمعية جميع مؤسسات المجتمع المدني الحقوقية والسياسية والإجتماعية إلى التضامن بالحضور وإطلاق البيانات الداعمة لليوسف. كما وتعلن الجمعية أنها قد طلبت من المحامية فاطمة الحواج تولي مهام الدفاع عن محمود اليوسف، وتشكر الجمعية المحامية الحواج على إستجابتها السريعة لذلك.

إن جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية تدرك خطورة الإستمرار في مثل هذه المحاكمات التي تسعى إلى تقويض واحد من أهم المكتسبات الوطنية في العهد الإصلاحي لجلالة الملك حمد بن عيسى آل خليفة وهو الكلمة الحرة التي لا يمكن لجمعية الصحفيين أن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي أمام محاولات إغتيالها.

إن جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية ومن هذه المنطلق تؤكد أنها ستسعى خلال الفترة القادمة إلى تفعيل أدواتها وعلاقاتها مع المنظمات الإقليمية والدولية. ساعية من خلال هذا التحرك إلى إيقاف هذه الحملات القضائية ضد الصحافيين في البحرين.

كما وتؤكد الجمعية، انها في تبنيها لقضية البلوغر البحريني محمود اليوسف قد راعت الإلتزامات والسياقات القانونية للنشر الإلكتروني، معتبرة حرية التعبير في “المدونات” جزء لا يتجزأ من حرية الكلمة والتعليق وفق ما تقتضيه أدبيات ميثاق العمل الوطني ودستور مملكة البحرين 2002 وآخذة في الاعتبار تبني المؤسسات الدولية لحرية الصحافة العديد من القضايا المتعلقة بالمدونات والنشر الإلكتروني.

وإننا في جمعية الصحفيين إذ نصدر هذه الدعوة فإننا على ثقة بأن نزاهة القضاء البحريني ستكون داعمة لحرية الكلمة والتعبير. وإن الجمعية لتقدر في أعضاء الجسم الصحافي في البحرين سواء الأعضاء المنتمين أو من هم خارجها إستجابتهم لهذه الدعوة للاحتشاد في يوم المحاكمة آملة في أن يستجيب الوزير لمطالبات سحب هذه الدعوى.

عادل مرزوق
نائب رئيس الجمعية

The Bahraini Journalists Association denounces the trial of Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif

Journalists call to mobilize at the High Criminal Court

Jufair – Bahraini Journalists Association – Sunday, April 15, 2007
Bahraini Journalists Association invites all journalists in Bahrain to amass in solidarity with the Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif at the High Criminal Court on Tuesday April 17, 2007 due to the case brought against him by the Minister of Municipalities Mansour bin Rajab.

This calls all the journalists to be present at the courtroom and declare their solidarity with Al-Yousif on this issue of freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain. The BJA condemns the insistence of the minister in pursuing a lawsuit against Al-Yousif, especially as Al-Yousif’s criticism of the minister in his Internet published article was criticism of the minister’s capacity as public official rather than personal. The BJA also calls on civic institutions political and social to show their solidarity by attending at the trial and release supportive statements of Al-Yousif. The Society also announces that it has asked Advocate Fatima Al-Hawaj to assume the defense of Mahmood Al-Yousif and would like to thank Ms. Al-Hawaj for her acceptance in assuming that role.

The Bahraini Journalists Association, realizes the seriousness of the continuation of such trials, which seek to undermine one of the most important achievements in the national reform of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, which is the tenet of the freedom of speech; thus, the Journalists Association will not stand idle and watch the the assassination attempts of this freedom.

The Bahraini Journalists Association will exert all efforts available within its powers and will activate all the tools at its disposal as well as its relations with regional and international organizations to demand a stop to these judicial campaigns against journalists in Bahrain.

The Association stresses that in espousing the cause of Bahraini blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif had taken into consideration the commitments and legal contexts of electronic publishing asserting that freedom of expression in these laws are an integral part of freedom of speech as required by the tenets of the National Action Charter and the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. It has also taken into account the adoption of international journalists institutions of similar electronic publishing cases and defended them within the context of the freedom of the press.

We in the Journalists Association are confident of the impartiality of the judiciary in Bahrain and will be supportive of freedom of speech and expression. The Association appreciates that the members of the press in Bahrain, both members and non-members, respond to this call to mobilize on the day of the trial hoping that the minister responds to our demands of withdrawing this lawsuit.

Adel Marzooq
Vice President
Bahrain Journalists Association

note: translation to English is my attempt

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PM supports a free press too!

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واعتبر رئيس الوزراء أثناء استقباله أمس (الثلثاء) أعضاء مجلس إدارة جمعية الصحفيين البحرينية برئاسة عيسى الشايجي، أنه ‘’لا يوجد داعم أكبر للانفتاح من الصحافة والوعي والتحلي بروح المسؤولية، وأنه بالقلم الحر والكلمة الصادقة والأمانة الوطنية والتحليل والرؤى الثاقبة للأمور، مطمئنون أن منجزاتنا ستتعاظم ومقدراتنا محمية وثوابتنا الوطنية محفوظة’’.

وتابع ‘’نحرص على توجيه الوزراء للتواصل مع الصحافة وتوضيح كل ما يهم المواطنين، والاختلاف في الرأي ظاهرة صحية طالما لم يكن على مصلحة الوطن العليا، فهذه مسألة لا خلاف عليها بيننا جميعاً مهما كبرت أو صغرت مواقعنا’’.

Al-Waqt :: 7 Feb, ’07

Good news. The PM supports free speech and a free press too. Echoing and confirming the king’s stance on the subject.

Now that we have the the most powerful two in the country unequivocally for these freedoms, one would think that Bashmi’s proposal will supplant that the government has pushed through in haste during last parliamentary term to amend the Press & Publications Law number 47/2002?

And that they will move the new media ownership law and instruct parliament to get on with it and discuss it?

Well, the talk is good. Let’s hope that the action follows just as beautifully.

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Another day, another journalist in the dock

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Al-Wasat journalist Hussain Khalaf indicted for libel

This time, the lottery winner is Hussain Khalaf who has been indicted and fined BD50 (US$132) for describing a fight without naming the participants!

The Bahrain Journalists’ Association is urging Mr. Khalaf to appeal the case as it believes – rightly – that he did no wrong.

As young teenagers, we used to joke with each other that we should not drive our cars in the last week of the month, as it is in that week specifically – we naively thought – that the traffic police got to be rather conscientious about their job and handed driving offences left, right and centre. The reason, we surmised, was that they are ensuring that they get paid their salaries for that month from our fines!

If this is the motive behind these continuous harassing techniques by the public prosecution or the government in general, then let’s not waste time with all of this and start a “Writers Kitty” where every writer pays a subscription of a set amount per month and be done with it! That would save the prosecution’s, court’s and the public’s time and efforts and will hopefully get them all to dedicate their time more industriously investigating the myriad of delayed cases that desperately need resolved and fairly decided.

Once again, I offer my support to another journalist, Mr. Hussain Khalaf this time, and agree with the BJA in that no wrong has taken place, judging by what has been written about the case.

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King’s Freedom of Expression Vow Ignored

Journalist Ja’afar Al-Jamri of Al-Wasat being sued for libel

No sooner than our king vowing to protect the freedoms of expression in Bahrain, than we get yet another journalist dragged in for questioning by the public prosecutor!

The honour this time goes to Ja’afer Al-Jamri of Al-Wasat with a complaint brought against him by a government ex-employee for libel even though it has been proven that the complainant was in the wrong! This of course gives rise to various questions, chief amongst them is why does the public prosecution bother with these cases? Wouldn’t it have been better for them to throw the complaint out and save themselves some time?

Not so, it seems, and I agree with Radhi Al-Mousawi’s conclusions in this regard: this continuous hauling of opinion writers and journalists to the public prosecutor is the first line of “warning” these people to toe the line, especially when it is tied with criticism against the government, one of its employees or any other person society deems as “influential”.

This method is quite effective actually and I can tell you this from first hand experience. Not that I have stopped criticising (constructively still, mind you) but this method has been successful in varying degrees in silencing opinion writers who do not wish to spend some time being questioned, nor have their jobs and livelihood put in jeopardy. I have absolutely no problem with those who chose to take heed of these warnings and I completely understand why they did so. What I do have a problem with is that it looks like the government still regards criticism as “disrespect” – probably in a tribal mentality – rather than a freely provided consultancy to better its ways!

His majesty understands this point fully, I feel, which is exactly why he made his vow only a couple of days ago that he fully supports the God-given freedom of expression. So it just remains now to translate his vision and inculcate it fully in written laws which should be coded in a way to protect those freedoms as his majesty understands and wishes.

One thing that would speed that process up is to instruct parliament to finish discussing Law 47/2002’s Press & Publications Law amendments – which magically supplanted Ebrahim Bashmi’s much better proposal – the parliament started discussing in its last term and has not touched in the almost inaugural 100 days of its convening.

Ja’afar, my friend, I am with you all the way. I do not see how you committed a wrong. On the contrary, all you’ve done is provide free consultancy for which you should have been thanked!

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King vows to promote freedom of expression

In an audience today, the king met with the members of the Bahrain Journalist Association and:

UNDERLINED HIS CONTINUOUS KEENNESS TO PROMOTE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION WHICH IS THE MOST EMINENT CONTRIBUTOR TO PRESS DEVELOPMENT URGING EVERY BODY TO STICK TO OBJECTIVITY AND HONESTY AND CHAMPION THE NATIONAL INTEREST.

King meeting journalists

and just to be sure that the translation is actually correct, courtesy of the BNA:

و اكد جلالته حرصه الدائم على كفالة حرية الرأى والتعبير التى هى العامل الابرز فى ازدهار الصحافة داعيا الى ان يتحلى الجميع بالموضوعية والنزاهة وان يضعوا مصلحة الوطن العليا فوق كل اعتبار.

Thank you your majesty, this is much appreciated by every opinion writer in the island, I am sure. And as your majestic words are law, I can now assume that Law 47 of 2002 which imprisons these very writers for exercising your vision as expressed above is now withdrawn and that people can write and speak their minds for the betterment of your kingdom without fear of this particular persecution and imprisonment?

I sure hope so and shall take your words at face value. I will also hope that our illustrious parliamentarians shall immediately work to rescind that law and replace it with another which will allow people to speak their minds without having that sword of incarceration hanging over their heads.

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2007 Press Freedom Survey

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It’s that time again; RSF released it’s 2007 Press Freedom Survey and Bahrain again does not fair well… their map of Bahrain is resolutely black in this area. Here’s what they have to say about us:

The monarchy’s progress towards democracy has not included decriminalising press offences and the regime continues to control the media.

The democratic reforms of Sheikh Hamad, a Sunni Muslim, since he came to power in 1999, quickly faded before the demands of the country’s Shiite majority for a voice. Journalists are increasingly critical of the regime, but the press laws, which allow prison sentences from between six months and five years, prevent normal working conditions, so self-censorship is still the best way to keep one’s job.

The supreme court banned the media on 4 October 2006 from mentioning in any way a scandal known as Bandargate, involving the royal family and some politicians, that led to the deportation of Sudanese-born British citizen Salah al-Bandar for distributing a detailed report on electoral fraud. Hussein Mansour, of the daily paper Al Mithak, and Mohamed al-Othman, of the daily Al Wasat, received anonymous phone threats in October for writing about the scandal.

The government had said in April 2005 that all Internet websites dealing with Bahrain would have to register with the information ministry, but the new rule, which was criticised by Reporters Without Borders, has not been implemented. However, access to many sites and political blogs was barred in October 2006, a month before parliamentary elections. The regime also censored online publications that mentioned Bandargate.
RSF :: 2007 Press Freedom Survey

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Bahrain re-introduces arrests of political activists

Dr. Mohammed Saeed Mattar - detained by Bahraini security due to his political activism in Nov 06Everybody’s hope, the king’s reform program’s success, is hanging in the balance due to various issues shaking Bahrain. What has started in 2001 with king Hamad releasing all prisoners of conscience, and his affirmation that this will never happen again in Bahrain, one which will hold the rule of law and its fair application at the head of its priorities, is about to come crashing around us, signaling the end of the belief in such reforms.

The various things happening here are not helping this country and its people in the slightest; the parliamentary elections gerrymandering attempts, the direct and indirect support extremist Salafis and other Islamists are getting from the government against national figures, the iniquitous distribution of land, wealth, opportunities and electoral districts, the marginalisation of the Shi’a, the abject refusal of the government and the ruling family to face the consequences of the Bandargate scandal or even honestly initiate a thorough and impartial investigation into its claims, the continuation of those implicated in the scandal to continue to roam the Earth with impunity and their continuing employment in sensitive government positions unmolested, the restrictions exerted by law on freedoms of speech and assembly, the closure and/or blockage of websites, and various other ills which have surfaced over the last four years.

Now we get to know that not one, but two Bahrainis have been detained (Arabic) by the security forces under the guise of “incitement and distribution of illegal pamphlets calling for an unauthorised demonstration.” Both appear to belong to the Haqq splinter opposition movement who are boycotting the forthcoming elections.

The demonstration refers of course to the one announced by political activists a few days ago to demonstrate against the government not opening an investigation into the Bandargate scandal this afternoon in Manama.

This further strengthens my belief that the government is trying to hide facts, or rather, acknowledges the fact that it has been caught with its pants down and are desperate now to cover up by using force, threats of force, coercion and that infamous Press & Publications Law of 2002 to do so.

Gentlemen, this is not how things are resolved.

Release Dr. Mohammed Saeed Mattar and his compatriot immediately!


update [email protected]: a Free Mohammed site has been started. Go there please for latest info. The site doesn’t work very well in FireFox, but should work ok with IE. That’s stupid “Jeeran” for you. The other person detained is one Hussain Abdul Aziz Al Habshi.

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One more site blocked in Bahrain

It used to be just 9 that were blocked:

and now, it appears that someone who is really shaking in his boots and deems it very necessary to protect us from ourselves and protect the country from those nefarious people hell bent on toppling the government has done the right thing™ and blocked…

Well done! I am sure the blocking of these sites will contribute greatly to the country’s standing in the Freedom of the Press index, the Human Rights index (which Bahrain actually is on that council in the UN!!) and will also assist Shaikha Haya bint Rashed Al-Khalifa in her role as the PRESIDENT of the United Nations and gain her and Bahrain even more respect and credibility to continue to be in that role.

Of course, that brainfartist probably doesn’t know that it is becoming easier every day to unblock sites, no matter what their contents are.

Welllll done!

But then one must ask the question… who’s next?

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MoI threatens websites.. again.

They’re using that old “protecting Islam” chestnut again, here’s the copy:

أغلقت موقعي «صوت الحق» و«إسلاميات»
«الإعلام» ترصد المواقع الإلكترونية المسيئة للإسلام

صرح القائم بأعمال مدير إدارة المطبوعات والنشر في وزارة الإعلام حسن عون بان الوزارة تحرص على رصد المواقع التي تسيء الى الإسلام والى شخص الرسول الكريم، خصوصا بعد الموجة التي تفشت في معظم دول العالم المعادية للإسلام، ونتيجة لذلك تم حصر اكثر من موقع الكتروني وقد تم إغلاق بعضها في الآونة الأخيرة. وأضاف بان وزير الإعلام ووزير الدولة للشؤون الخارجية قد اصدر مؤخرا قرارا بإغلاق موقعي ‘’صوت الحق’’ و’’إسلاميات’’ حيث انهما من المواقع التي تسيء الى شخص الرسول (صلى الله عليه وسلم) وللدين الإسلامي. وأوضح أن وزارة الاعلام تؤكد في هذا الصدد انها لا تألوا جهدا في التصدي لكل المواقع التي تتعارض مع قانون الصحافة والطباعة والنشر لسنة ,2002 وان الجهود مستمرة في رصد كل المواقع التي تسيء لديننا الحنيف والى شخص الرسول الكريم.

Al-Waqt :: 11 Oct, ’06

It really doesn’t matter what they’re saying in that paragraph, other than to understand that the Ministry of disInformation has decided to close a couple of websites they deem to be anti-Islamic (while they leave much more poisonous ones well alone); however, the important thing is to look at that underlined sentence (my emphasis) which states that the Ministry will have no compunction in closing down or at least blocking any site that contravenes the Press & Publications Law 47 of 2002.

They’ve said that before, but why are they reiterating it again? If your answer was to emphasize the illegal act – as freedom of speech is an inalienable human right – that sites too are not allowed to write about Bandargate you have won yourself a Just Bahraini button! Call me to pick yours up.

That demonstrates to me that Mr. Hassan Oan, the guy who appears to have taken over from Jamal Dawood, has been taught well by his predecessor, who is now much in the throws of his parliamentary election campaign which incidentally is completely paid for by Ahmed Attiyatallah, yes, the generous author of the very same cheques central to Bandargate. In Dawood’s case, receiving BD 2,200: BD 1,000 for organising a football tourney and BD 1,200 for a tent! How cheap can you get? And you call this person who demanded the registration of websites “to help them” trustworthy and doesn’t have any altruistic motives if he can be bought? [1] [2]

Which brings me to the laugh of the day…

The first page of the Bandargate reportThe national papers wrote a letter (are you shaking in your slippers yet?), yes my friends, the guardians of free speech on this island, all 6 of them, wrote a letter of objection to the High Criminal Court judge licking his shoes and explaining to him their point of view that them, ya’ani, being banned from writing anything about the Bandargate report [blush] will only drive people to other news avenues most of which will not be as responsible as their good selves are [uncontrollable giggles].

They received a reply (arabic) which they published on their front pages basically telling them to bugger off and behave themselves and continue to be acquiescent morons toeing the line. OR ELSE!

Or else what for God’s sake? Ban the newspaper from going to print for a few days? What the hell matter would that be anyway? They’re all financed through huge big pipes that would not even notice even a moderate drop in its flow pressure. Make a STAND Goddammit! What are you put there for in the first place? Aren’t you supposed to be the fourth Estate?

If I was one of their publishers, I would just print a completely blank paper with NO NEWS at all, white spaces where all their articles would be, but just keep the advertising blocks. I bet that had that been done that that paper’s sale would have skyrocketed on that day (yes, all it takes is a single print to make the point) and the pressure will have increased many fold and redirected on the court to rescind that brain-dead decision.

Ooo what a happy day!

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Bahrain’s Lord Voldemort!

and he shall be henceforth called: He Who Must Not Be Named [HWMNBN or BOO! for short], as dictated by our completely partial judicial system, further entrenching the age-old custom and tradition of sweeping problems under a carpet and deem them summarily resolved!

PUBLISHING NEWS ON AL BANDER CASE NO LONGER ALLOWED

date: 04 10, 2006

MANAMA OCT. 4 (BNA) THE SENIOR CRIMINAL COURT ISSUED A DECISION TODAY PREVENTING THE PUBLISHING OF ANY NEWS, COMMENTS OR INFORMATION REGARDING THE CASE OF SALAH AL BANDER, WHO WAS ACCUSED OF SEIZING STATE OWNED DOCUMENTS AND STEALING TWO PRIVATE CHEQUES.
THE DECISION WAS BASED ON ARTICLES 40 AND 71 OF DECREE BY LAW 47 FOR 2002 (Arabic), GOVERNING THE PRESS, PRINTING AND PUBLICATIONS. THE DECISION CAME AFTER SOME NEWSPAPERS HAD WRITTEN ABOUT THE CASE IN A WAY THAT COULD HARM NATIONAL INTERESTS, SOW SEDITION AND SENSITIVITY AMONG MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY AND INFLUENCE THE COURT. THESE NEWSPAPERS WERE WRITING ABOUT INCIDENTS THAT WERE NEITHER SUPPORTED BY DOCUMENTS, NOR PRESENTED TO THE PUBLIC PROSECUTION NOR VERIFIED BY ANY MEANS.
BNA

OOOOOkay then Mr. Senior Criminal Court and illustrious BNA, let me tell you – and I’m a mere mortal mind you and have no degree in lawyering, that the document signed by the Kingdom of Bahrain and submitted to the United Nations dealing with that thing called Human Rights unequivocally 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.
Article XIX

So you can kiss my whatsit. I’ve got PROOF that the country is heading very quickly to be the Darfour of the Gulf in a few years time, and hear me say this as loud as I can:

NO SHI’I AND NO SUNNI…
JUST BAHRAINI

So bugger off and let us solve the problem while you continue to just want to hide (and create) problems rather than face and diligently work toward solving them…

Your Majesty, do you STILL think that Law 47 of 2002 is a good idea?

I AM A PROUD BAHRAINI!

RELASE MY SHACKLES AND LET ME LIVE WITH DIGNITY.

FIRE AHMED ATTIYATALLAH NOW AND CLOSE DOWN THOSE SECRET CELLS WHO WANT NOTHING BUT DESTROY MY COUNTRY.

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