Reporters Without Borders condemns the Bahraini government’s last-minute withdrawal of the permission it had previously given for a visit by a delegation of NGOs that defend freedom of expression. Spurious grounds were used to prevent the visit, which had been scheduled to take place from 5 to 10 May.
The Bahraini authorities often reiterate their “respect for the principles of human rights and freedoms within the framework of law and order and justice,” but clearly do not include freedom of information.
“The withdrawal of permission just a few days before World Press Freedom Day is indicative of the Bahraini government’s desire to maintain a news blackout on the continuing crackdown and its limitless hypocrisy towards the international community,” Reporters Without Borders said.
The delegation was to have consisted of representatives of various free speech NGOs affiliated to the London-based International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), including Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Index on Censorship, PEN International and the Committee to Protect Journalists. Freelance journalist Clare Morgana Gillis was also to have accompanied the delegation.
The delegation received permission from the Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development on 11 April to visit Bahrain in order to evaluate the situation of freedom of expression. The ministry changed its mind on 30 April, claiming that new regulations had taken effect that prevented the presence of more than one international NGO in any one week.
The delegation’s members have written to Khalifa Ben Mohamed Al-Khalifa, Director of Human Rights Organizations at the ministry, condemning the withdrawal of permission. Read the letter.
During the Formula One Grand Prix that was held in Manama from 20 to 22 April, Reporters Without Borders waged a campaign to draw attention to the government media freedom violations since the start of street protests in February 2011.
Bahrain is ranked 173rd out of 179 countries in the 2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and its ruler, King Hamad Ben Aissa Al Khalifa, is on the list of the world’s 41 Predators of Freedom of Information.
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