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Journalist summoned for allegedly defaming Civil Service Bureau

(BCHR/IFEX) - The Bahraini Public Prosecution (PP) has summoned Mr Abdulhasan Bu-Hussain, a journalist writer at "Alwasat" local newspaper, on a case brought against him by the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) accusing him of smear and defamation in a series of articles written by Bu-Hussain about the CSB and its regulations.

Bu-Hussain, who was a former executive at the CSB, wrote a series of articles in "Alwasat" in the period of 16 September to 16 November 2008, outlining many of the CSB bylaws, executive circulations, resolutions and instructions for government employees which violate the Bahraini Constitution and laws. The CSB responded furiously more than once, threatening to prosecute the writer who was obstinate in upholding what he considers his right to freedom of expression on public issues.

After a 23 October article in which Bu-Hussain criticized the inclusion of employees of executive position in the overtime payment system, deeming it a violation of the Civil Service Act, the CSB responded angrily, taking recourse to the law. Bu-Hussain noted: "The Service Bureau has responded nervously to my published article, pledging to (involve) the Public Prosecutor on a matter of opinion on the contents of the internal bylaws in breach of the Civil Service Act, claiming that what I expressed as opinion is a serious accusation, smear and defamation."

BCHR President Nabeel Rajab stated: "It is ironic that the summoning of the journalist writer Mr Bu-Hussain came 48 hours after the celebrations of World Press (Freedom) Day, giving an indication that the local authorities are, unfortunately, not serious about improving the status of freedom of expression and journalism in Bahrain." He continued: "We are deeply concerned as the ranking of Bahrain drops towards the end of the tail of countries as regards freedom of the press, as outlined by the latest Freedom House report."

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