(BCHR/IFEX) - Free expression advocates from around the world gathered this week in Oslo, Norway, at the IFEX General Meeting. Forty IFEX members signed on to the following statement, calling on the Bahraini authorities to address recent attacks on free expression in that country:
In the past few months and since the posting of the new Minister of Information and Culture, Mai Al-Khalifa, the Bahraini authorities have taken severe measures to clamp down on all forms of freedom of expression. This includes preventing access to hundreds of websites, blogs and internet outlets - even those concerned with human rights and non-subversive issues.
Authorities have waged a campaign against free expression, prosecuting writers, journalists and bloggers for practicing their profession, and preventing human rights defenders, activists and dissidents from addressing the public through media, internet and other fora. Moreover, the authorities have led defamation campaigns, through its controlled media, against activists and human rights defenders who express their dissenting views and openly discuss public affairs.
Abusive laws, like the Penal Code of 1976, the Press Code of 2002 and the counter terrorism laws of 2006, have been used to further legalize the aforementioned human rights violations and have been instruments by which biased judiciary organs have prosecuted and imprisoned dissidents and human rights defenders.
In voicing our protest against the stifling of all forms of freedom of expression in Bahrain, the signatories below, as members of the international NGO community, call on the authorities to refrain from breaching their recent commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to uphold Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly given Bahrain's membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
We, the undersigned also call on Information Minister Mai Al-Khalifa and her government to make good on promises and proclamations made before the international community about Bahrain's commitment to uphold the right to freedom of expression. We respectfully appeal to the government to stop current practices of monitoring, policing and harassing individuals, groups and organisations that exercise their rights to free association and expression.
Arab Archives Institute
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
Centre for Independent Journalism - Malaysia
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social
Comité por la Libre Expresión - C-Libre
Federation of Nepali Journalists
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Freedom of Expression Institute
Globe International Center
Index on Censorship
Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad
International Press Institute
Journaliste en danger
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión - OLA
Pacific Freedom Forum
Pakistan Press Foundation
Public Association "Journalists"
Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media
Thai Journalists Association
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters - AMARC
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers