Bahrain set for new media freedom says King
Manama, May 3, 2012
Bahrain's media is about to enter a new era of freedom with fresh legislation on the way, His Majesty King Hamad pledged yesterday (May 2), describing freedom of expression as a right of all Bahrainis.
Speaking on the eve of World Press Freedom Day (May 3), His Majesty hit out at 'phony rhetoric' that he said had been directed at Bahrain as part of a campaign to incite violence.
He called on journalists to verify the facts before publishing and accused some of seeking to plunge the country into chaos.
'Our reformative project shall always require sincere, free speech and constructive ideas which boost consciousness and cultural identity in our homeland as we seek more reforms and development - not destruction or vandalism - emanating from our keenness to serve the best interests of our country and citizens,' he said.
The King urged reporters to support tolerance and national unity over divisionism and hatred; portray true facts and comply with professional media ethics instead of reporting lies or falsehoods; and not downplay Bahrain's reform progress.
'These are really the sensible voices worthy of Bahrain - not phony rhetoric or crisis perpetrating voices,' he said.
'It is quite clear that the kingdom of Bahrain has been targeted by purposeful, willful campaigns through some foreign media which sought to distort true facts, instigate violence, sabotage, hatred and hostility among citizens in our united nation.
'This contravenes all religious teachings, moral ethics and international treaties and conventions as these campaigns propagated false opinions, relied on one-sided and biased sources devoid of any accuracy and credibility and marginalised the rest of Bahraini public opinion.'
The King said Bahrain remained committed to respecting journalistic principles outlined in the Windhoek Declaration and called on media organisations around the world to remain honest, credible, subjective, neutral and support dialogue and peaceful co-existence.
'We are looking forward to seeing the international community as it takes decisive actions to halt any destructive provocation of divisionism, hostility or hatred and prevent instigation of violence or terrorism for the sake of ensuring a better world where security, stability and prosperity prevail,' added the King.
Meanwhile, he also paid tribute to Bahrain's journalism pioneers, as well as those who had put the country's interests above 'material, ideological or sectarian considerations'.
The King also backed Information Affairs Authority's efforts to develop the media sector with an advanced media production city in the pipeline and further investment being sought.
'We instruct both the executive and the legislative authorities to follow up the implementation of these developmental projects, co-ordinate endorsement of an overall advanced law for the audio-visual, written and electronic Bahraini media,' he said.
He added this would comprise establishing a Supreme Council for the Media, enhancing the role of an independent Press and protecting the rights of journalists and the community.
'There should be no tampering with the right of Bahraini citizens in expressing their opinions, nor any ceilings put on their freedoms or creativity apart from professional consciousness, national and ethical responsibilities and observance of the people's unity and national interest in compliance with the constitution and the law,' he said.
The King said plans to open up the media were based on recommendations of last summer's National Dialogue, along with the findings of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.
'Media freedoms are ushering in a more advanced phase of diversity, independence and respect of opinion and counter-opinion,' he said, adding that legislation to 'boost freedom of opinion and expression in compliance with highest international standards' was on the cards. – TradeArabia News Service