Thursday, June 04, 2009

Forty IFEX members protest attacks on free expression

June 2009
Joint action

Forty IFEX members protest attacks on free expression

(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.

Bahrain Center for Human Rights Phone: +97 33 9633399 Fax: +97 31 7795170

Arab Archives Institute ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo de Investigação 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 Comité por la Libre Expresión National Center for Social Communication Federation of Nepali Journalists Foro de Periodismo Argentino Freedom House Freedom of Expression Institute Globe International Index on Censorship Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety Instituto Prensa y Sociedad International Press Institute Journaliste en danger Media Foundation for West Africa Media Institute Media Institute of Southern Africa Media Rights Agenda Media Watch Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance Mizzima News Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création Pacific Freedom Forum Pakistan Press Foundation Public Association "Journalists" Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay South East European Network for the Professionalization of the Media Southeast Asian Press Alliance Thai Journalists Association World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters World Association of Newspapers