Bahrain Imposes Arbitrary Restrictions Against Freedom of Expression of Opinion
Stockholm – Skyline International condemns the Bahraini authorities for their public intimidation to arbitrarily restrict the right to express opinion through unlawfully punitive measures.
In a press release, Skyline states that it seriously concerns about a statement issued by the Bahraini Ministry of Interior on Monday 12 October, in which it vows to take "legal measures" against social media users if they oppose its polices.
The Ministry of Interior statement claims that there are "suspicious accounts" on social media fuel sedition, threaten civil peace and the social fabric, and destabilize security and stability in the Kingdom of Bahrain."
The statement claims that these accounts deliberately spread sedition and disunity and distort the image of Bahrain due the peace declaration signed between Bahrain and Israel" in the middle of last month. Thus, Bahrain promises to take legal measures against these accounts.
Skyline considers that the Bahraini Ministry suppresses public opinions and the security issue in violation of international charters and treaties that guarantee freedom of opinion and public freedoms.
Skyline emphasizes that such behavior expresses usual repressive practices in Bahrain that violate international human rights covenants, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 19 of this covenant states that everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference.
The aforementioned article also affirms that" Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice"
The human rights foundation "Skyline" warns that the Bahraini authorities deliberately prosecute anyone who follows any opposition account, or indicate to a political dispute with the authorities. Such actions violate international laws that strengthen expression of opinion.
Activists and human rights organizations in Bahrain fear that the anti-terrorism law, the amendments of which the country's king ratified last year, will be used to charge activists and opponents for expressing their opinion online.
The amended law includes 5 years imprisonment and a fine for everyone who “by any means promotes, glorifies, justifies, favors, or encourages acts that constitute terrorist activity that is punishable, whether inside or outside the Kingdom.” The law includes internet and social media users who oppose the government.
Skyline International calls on the Bahraini authorities to stop their suppressive practices against freedom of opinion and expression and public freedoms guaranteed by international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.