Freedom House Annual Report: Authorities in Bahrain Refuse to Give Foreign Media Reporters Accreditation
2017-11-17 - 8:25 p
Bahrain Mirror: Freedom House published on its website its Freedom of the Press report for 2016, rating countries worldwide, including Bahrain.
The rights organization discussed the press situation in the island kingdom, noting that in June 2016, the authorities refused to renew a journalist's accreditation, and later charged her with working for foreign outlets without proper documentation. It also stated that according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) there were seven journalists in Bahraini prisons as of December. Freedom house said that the government issued new regulations banning news outlets from live streaming events, adding that in late December, Eman Salehi, a sports journalist for Bahrain's state-run television broadcaster, was shot and killed, but it was not clear whether her murder was related to her work as a journalist.
In the details of the report, the rights group highlighted that journalists also report direct intimidation by government representatives, which is aimed at discouraging reporting on sensitive topics such as pro-democracy movements, adding that most opposition publications have been shut down, and those that still operate are often targets of lawsuits and harassment.
"The internet serves as an alternative space for public expression, but is closely monitored, with the government devoting considerable resources to surveillance and cybersecurity. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 98 percent of people in Bahrain accessed the internet in 2016."
Freedom House stressed that authorities in Bahrain use a variety of regulatory measures to control the flow of information, and have prosecuted journalists for purported violations. "In July 2016, the information minister issued new regulations requiring newspapers to obtain annual, renewable licenses to publish online. It also prohibited live streaming video, as well as video clips longer than 120 seconds in length."
It further stated that separately, in June, the ministry refused to renew the journalism license of Nazeeha Saeed, who reports regularly for France 24 and Radio Monte-Carlo Doualiya. Shortly afterward, a travel ban was issued against her, and she was charged with working for foreign media outlets without proper accreditation.
The HR organization also said that the Bahraini government has restricted foreign journalists' access to the country, both by denying journalists entry and deporting those who gained access. "In February 2016, four U.S. journalists were arrested and deported after the government accused them of entering the country without registering as journalists, and posing as tourists."
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