Defamation Laws In Bahrain
In Bahrain, there is no law guaranteeing freedom of information, and the Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI) has the authority to censor and prevent the distribution of local and foreign publications, close newspapers through court proceedings, ban books and films, block websites, and prosecute individuals.
Defamation Used To Control Media Outlets
Defamation laws are regularly used against organizations and media outlets for issuing statements critical of public officials. By way of illustration, an independent newspaper, Al-Wasat, was reported to have its online audio reports suspended by the MOCI after the website featured interviews with detainees who were allegedly mistreated in prison. The government also imposed restrictions on the Al-Jazeera satellite channel, and its local bureau was temporarily shut down after airing a broadcast on poverty in Bahrain.
Calls For Defamation Reform Remain Unanswered
In recent years, Bahrain Center for Human Rights has made appeals to the King and government officials to amend the country’s 1976 penal code to ensure that the defamation laws conform with the international charters and covenants. There has been little response to the repeated requests.
The Country May Sue A British Newspaper For Defamation
Government officials from the Kingdom of Bahrain may sue a British newspaper for defamation under Bahrain Laws. According to British laws, elected governmental bodies may not sue for defamation. However, unelected regimes and individuals (like the Kingdom of Bahrain) may be able to do so.