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Editor fined in defamation case

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights is concerned by the use of the repressive and widely condemned Press Decree Code 47 (2002) against a local journalist and news editor.

Jaafar Al Jamry from "Al Wasat" newspaper was handed a BD 150 (approx. US$396) fine by judges at the High Criminal Court on 16 April 2008. He was charged with publishing defamatory remarks and false information about an employee at the Health Ministry.

Court proceedings were initiated against Al Jamry after a Health Ministry employee filed a complaint against him. Al Jamry has maintained his innocence, saying that his remarks did not target the employee in her personal capacity. The Lower Criminal Court previously ruled it had no jurisdiction over the case, which was then sent to the High Criminal Court.

"We are disappointed to see that the legal system in Bahrain, specifically the repressive Press Decree of 2002, has been used against a journalist in Bahrain," BCHR vice president Nabeel Rajab said.

"This law has been criticised by local NGOs and international human rights organisations for effectively criminalising people for exercising their civil and political rights such as freedom of expression and speech.

"Such developments are not in keeping with the promised democratic reforms in the country, and we urge the government to reconsider the law in this light. Legislation in Bahrain should support political reform and the development of a climate of openness in which Press freedoms are respected and upheld."

Updates the Al Jamry case:

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