Press freedom reports

According to the International Press Institute’s 2007 World Press Freedom Review, Bahraini press freedom groups continued to call on the government to repeal the 2002 Press Law. Press law reforms announced in May fell far below expectations.

The Bahrain Journalists’ Association counted thirty legal cases against journalists claiming insult or defamation in 2006, but in each case the allegations were found to be baseless by the court.

Parliamentary and national elections in November 2006 prompted further discussion of Bahrain’s press freedom legislation.

The so called Bandar-gate scandal, an alleged political conspiracy by certain government officials to foment sectarian strife and marginalize the majority Shia community, resulted in bans on printed and online publications. Several websites were blocked by Bahrain’s Internet provider Batelco, including the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

The daily newspaper Al-Ayam complained that Salafi and Muslim brotherhood organizations were planning to take measures to “publicly demand an end to repeated insults to Islam and Muslims” printed in Al-Ayam.