Tag Archives press-law

Reports land journalist in the dock

A 52-year-old Bahraini journalist is being prosecuted for allegedly writing for a newspaper abroad without government permission.

He should have had official permission from the Information Ministry, the Lower Criminal Court heard.

The defendant, a journalist for nearly 30 years, is charged with illegally working as a correspondent for a Kuwaiti newspaper.

He admitted at an earlier hearing writing for the Kuwaiti paper, but told the court he had no idea that he needed ministry permission.

The ministry sent a complaint to the public prosecution that the journalist was acting as a correspondent for the newspaper without obtaining official permission.

It said it had repeatedly warned him to stop sending articles abroad without permission.

He has violated the Press and Publication Law of 2002, said the ministry.

The defendant worked illegally as a correspondent for the paper from March 8, 2002 to February 28, 2003, says the prosecution.

He told the court he stopped sending articles abroad for some time when he learned he could be prosecuted if he did not have official permission.

“I asked officials at the Information Ministry about the requirements one needs to practice this profession of becoming a journalist and a correspondent here in Bahrain,” he said.

“They told me that they wanted a letter from the editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti newspaper requesting the Information Ministry to register me as its correspondent in Bahrain.”

He said the paper sent the letter as requested and he continued as a correspondent.

The court adjourned the case until September 12, to find out whether the ministry had given permission or not.
GDN :: Mohammed Aslam :: 30 May 2005


وكيل “الإعلام”: تسجيل “المواقع” تأكيد لحرية النشر والحماية الفكرية

أكد الوكيل المساعد للمطبوعات والنشر في وزارة الإعلام عبدالله يتيم أن “بدء تسجيل المواقع الالكترونية في إدارة المطبوعات والنشر في وزارة الإعلام منذ الثاني من مايو/ أيار الجاري، يأتي ضمن التزامات الوزارة بترسيخ وإطلاق حرية الصحافة والطباعة والنشر باعتبارها من الحريات التي كفلها الدستور في مادتيه الـ “23” Ùˆ”24″ من دون مساس بالمصلحة العليا للوطن وبثوابته الدينية والحضارية، وبما يصون الحقوق والحريات العامة والمكتسبات الحضارية التي تحققت في ظل المشروع الإصلاحي الشامل لعاهل البلاد المفدى”.

وأكد الوكيل أهمية هذه الإجراءات الجديدة في تقديم قواعد إرشادية وإجرائية خاصة، من شأنها تحقيق جملة من المزايا من بينها: أولا: تشجيع الإبداع في إثراء المحتوى الالكتروني المحلي من حيث المستوى والمضمون. ثانيا: إكمال التزام البحرين بحماية حقوق المؤسسات والأفراد أصحاب المواقع الإلكترونية على الإنترنت ومنع الآخرين من الاعتداء على حقوقهم الفكرية استنادا إلى قانون حماية حقوق المؤلف ومعاهدة المنظمة العالمية للملكية الفكرية بشأن الانترنت، والالتزامات الدولية المتعلقة بها. ثالثا: تطوير مجتمع المعلوماتية، والمساعدة في حماية وتطوير أنشطة التجارة الإلكترونية في إطار اتجاه مملكة البحرين نحو تطبيق الحكومة الإلكترونية في مؤسساتها كافة. رابعا: منع الاستخدام السيئ وغير القانوني لشبكة الانترنت في ظل الالتزام بخطوط إرشادية مشابهة لتلك المستخدمة في تنظيم وسائل الإعلام التقليدية، وذلك من خلال منع إنشاء المواقع الإلكترونية التي تساعد على تسهيل الأنشطة التجارية والمالية غير المشروعة، فضلا عن تحميل مصممي تلك المواقع المسئولية القانونية تجاه المواد التي ينشرونها في مواقعهم، والتي من شأنها التشهير وخدش الحياء والأخلاق.

وبطريقة أكثر تجديدا فإن هذا الإجراء سيكون ذا أهمية لحظر المواقع الإلكترونية الإباحية، وكذلك مواقع التحرش الجنسي بالأطفال والمواقع التي تحض على العنف العرقي والديني أو جرائم الكراهية ضد مجتمعات أو افراد أو مجموعات أو اقليات معينة، وكذلك المواقع التي تشجع على الأنشطة الإرهابية ونشر معلومات عن صناعة المتفجرات أو الدفاع عن عمليات الاغتيال


A light-bulb faintly goes on

From this morning’s GDN

Webmasters are free to register

WEBMASTERS will not be hounded into registering their sites with the Information Ministry, authorities said yesterday.

Information Under-Secretary Mahmood Al Mahmood said although the rules state that Bahrain websites must be registered with the ministry, it will not be actively pursuing them.

“Our goal is to encourage people to follow the legal way and a large number of websites have already registered. But we will not be actively pursuing all websites that are not registered,” he said.

“It’s the same as registering a car. If your car is not registered and no one hears about it, then you won’t get into any trouble. But if the authorities hear about it, then you could.”

A six-month campaign has been launched to register all Bahraini websites.

Webmasters face similar laws to newspapers related to libel, public decency and ethics. Just as a newspaper editor-in-chief is held responsible for what he publishes, so will a webmaster.

Ministry printing and publishing director Jamal Dawood said the ministry has an application form that people can pick up and fill.

“They will be issued with a registration number which they should put on their home page.”

Mr Dawood said no one would face prosecution merely for failing to register. He said registration was in the webmasters’ own good.


“We cannot protect people’s intellectual property rights without having them registered.”

Mr Dawood said people cannot register online at the moment because his directorate doesn’t have a website. For more information, he said people can call 17717525 or email [email protected]

Meanwhile, the ministry’s new policies were blasted by Bahrain’s first web blogger Mahmood Al Yousif who said if they weren’t going to be enforced properly, they are meaningless.

“This means that the law is going to be applied unequally and if it will be applied haphazardly, then it is useless.”

Mr Al Yousif, who runs www.mahmood.tv, said this policy will only victimise people who are courageous enough to reveal their identity on the Internet.

“There are many ways of disguising your identity on the Internet. Since these people cannot be identified, the law cannot be applied to them,” he said.

The Internet blogging community, said Mr Al Yousif, has its own way of dealing with irresponsible bloggers.

“The blogging phenomenon, which has been sweeping the world for the past few years, has done wonders for progressing and protecting democracy because it’s about normal people putting down their thoughts without having to go through the traditional editorial process.”

This piece was by Tariq Khonji whose site http://tariqkhonji.com is well worth a visit.

This to me is progress, in as much as they (Dawood and Al-Mahmood) seem to have realised that they’re getting into deep water here so it’s best to find a way out. It is unfortunate however that they chose to unequally apply the law – which in their minds is a legitimate thing!

And pray tell us Mr. Al-Mahmood and Mr. Dawood, how is it that you want to “regulate” the internet and you don’t even have a website?

For this very fact, and for the fact that you RUN the Ministry of Information I hearby un-libellously brand you morons of the month!

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Freedom of Speech my big toe!
How to blog anonymously

Bloggers’ Code of Ethics document & discussion. Please participate.


Website clamp a step backwards

It is disturbing news that Bahrain has decided to clamp down on websites, just as the country celebrates World Book Day.

Yesterday’s stern warning to all webmasters to either register their sites or face legal action, has sent shockwaves down my spine.

To camouflage a law bent on infringing on the rights of people to express their opinion with clichés like protecting public freedom and safeguarding the rights stipulated in the 2002 reforms initiated by His Majesty King Hamad, is worrying.

It makes me and many others wonder what type of democracy we want to tell the rest of the civili-sed world we have.

Do we have a real democracy, or a tailor-made one under which people can do, say or think anything they want, as long as it falls in with the official line?

Instead of taking the opportunity of World Book Day to encourage people to read and write, express themselves and expand their horizons, the Information Ministry has now appointed itself as custodian of the worldwide web (www) and has created new restrictions to a service which provides people with information and entertainment at the click of a button.


Webmasters clamp ‘can prevent libel’

New rules asking webmasters to register their sites with the Information Ministry should not be used to stifle freedom of expression, political activists said yesterday. Some were totally opposed to any registration, saying it could be the beginning of a slippery slope which could lead to further restrictions and unfair legal action to be taken against webmasters.

Others said the registration rule should only be used to prosecute people for libel and similar crimes and that there should not be an attempt by government officials to control the content of websites.

National Democratic Action Society board member Ebrahim Alsayed said this development is the latest in a series of moves designed to stifle the population.

“It follows recent proposed anti-terror, gatherings and political societies laws, which are examples of backward steps being taken following Bahrain’s previous democratic reforms,” he said.

“It fits into a bigger scenario of the government controlling society, limiting freedom of expression, freedom of organisation and the ability of the public to put pressure on it.”


Freedom of Speech my big toe!

Webmasters must register or face legal action

Webmasters face prosecution if they defy new rules announced by Bahraini authorities. All Bahraini websites set up here or abroad must register with the Information Ministry or face legal action, it was declared yesterday.

A six-month campaign is being launched next Monday to register all Bahraini websites, under orders from Information Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar.

“The ministry will announce soon the details of how each website owner or supervisor can register,” Information Under-Secretary Mahmood Al Mahmood told the GDN.

“If they fail to register then legal action will be taken against them based on the country’s printing and publishing laws.”

He said websites would face similar laws to newspapers, related to libel, public decency and ethics.

Just as a newspaper editor-in-chief is held responsible for what he publishes, so will the webmasters be, he said.

Ministry printing and publishing director Jamal Dawood said registration procedures would be in line with those for all types of publications, including newspapers, leaflets, audio and visual media.


We woke up this morning to this. We first got wind of it through a very Silly site.

That the Ministry of Information continues to innovate and create new ways to drag the name of these islands in shite. The ministry being an extremely important appendage of Bahrain, Inc. can’t have come to this conclusion by themselves, they (the whole government) must be still smarting from the bahrainonline.org debacle, when sane people would think twice on generating adverse publicity once again by trying to control what is printed, this time they seem to have gone a step further and want to penalise us for our thoughts as well.

Nothing new of course, after all, the impression that the Ministry of Information is most concerned about is the complete destruction of Bahrain’s reputation nationally and internationally.

However, the Ministry of Information is really not to blame, it is an executive body trying to keep within the letter of the law. The blame is fully on the parliament’s doorstep and every single member of that impotent organ, be they elected or appointed. Functioning for over 3 years now without a single law that would improve Bahrain’s standing in the world, nor a single one that would improve our standards of living. Unless of course you consider that allowing veiled women to drive, protecting us from Nancy Ajram, or the requests to the Ministry of Works to install traffic bumps on roads achievements.

6 months.

We have 6 months to fight this brain-fart, or else just shut up and gobble it all up. And although we cannot depend on the parliament, unfortunately it’s the only place we have to petition to do something.

Therefore what I propose is:

1. Don’t register any site, if at the expiry of the 6-month deadline comes about without any progress, put up a statement on our websites declaring the death of freedoms of speech in Bahrain and abandon the sites.

2. Organise an on-line petition where all webmasters and website patrons can electronically sign. At the end of the 6 month period print it out and hand it to the Chairman of the National Assembly. As it is his chamber through Ibrahim Bashmi who is working on the new press and media laws rather than the moronic chamber of representatives.

3. Immediately organise a meeting and invite ALL webmasters to attend to take this issue further.

If they think that we’d be lying down and taking it, they’ve got another thing coming.

Who’s with me?


Another benchmark goes south

RSF published their annual report again, and unfortunately Bahrain’s ranking on press freedom dropped yet again.

And it’s a downward spiral at a rate of knots:

  • 2002: raked 67
  • 2003: ranked 117
  • 2004: ranked 143!
  • Why? Was it that the people polled to rank Bahrain are increasingly pessimistic on the outlook of press freedoms in Bahrain? Where they much more optimistic in 2002 and now they have completely given up? As far as I know there were no changes over the past three years as far as laws are concerned.

    A law that would really liberalise the media and increase press freedoms proposed by Ibrahim Bashmi of the Shura Council is still stagnating in the government waiting for approval but probably won’t see the light of day any time soon.

    The elected councilors on the other hand are falling over each other trying to bring out more restrictive laws, be those laws about personal freedoms, the right to demonstrate and congregate, the abolition of political parties or the introduction of shari’a laws.

    This is the second index this year that has clobbered us. First it was the lower ranking given by Transparency International on the Corruption Index, and now this.

    How far are we to descend before we all just give up? How long do we have to hang our heads in shame? How long do we continue to just talk about freedoms and transparency rather than do? How long will these proposed laws fester before they get enacted to release the media and press industries to do their jobs in constructive criticism?

    Or is that the plan?