King of Bahrain confirms: prisons are
free of Prisoners of Conscience

In a speech marking the International Day for Freedom of the Press on 3 May 2009, the King of Bahrain regarded freedom of press as a very important part of his political reform project. His Highness said that the freedom enjoyed by Bahrain’s press is proof of Bahrain’s openness and its protection of fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression. He affirmed that Bahrain’s prisons are free from any detainees in relation to freedom of expression and conscience.

The King expressed his pride at Bahrain’s compliance with international human rights conventions and legislations. He said that his country’s press has achieved a notable accomplishment and that both the legislative and executive authorities are doing their utmost to safeguard and protect freedom of press and provide both the press and journalists with more freedom within the framework of the law as well as organizing the executive procedures which regulate the performance of press work.

The King also promised to work towards developing the media scene and completing the necessary tools for that in accordance with the standards of the profession and society’s culture. He also called for the rejection of division and the adoption of a culture of openness and sharing with others, as well as launching social and governmental initiatives in order to promote the role of the press in the protection of social unity and civil peace. Additionally, the King called for the development of a ‘civil media’ concept which nurtures the appropriate national feeling and supports the spirit of national responsibility.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Culture and Information celebrated, on 3 May 2009, the International Day for the Freedom of the Press. The Minster, Dr. Mai Al Khalifa, said that part of the Ministry’s concern is to strengthen partnership with local and international media and press institutions, which would contribute to raising the standard of media work and standards of professionalism and responsible freedom. On the same occasion, the Minister launched the ‘Bahrain Initiative for Civil Media’ and announced the introduction of the new ‘Bahrain Award for Freedom of Press’ which will start from next year 2010. The Award, estimated at 100 thousand Dollars, will be allocated for distinguished Bahraini journalists.