Bahrain’s human rights achievements stressed at National Action Plan for Human Rights workshop
Bahrain has made important achievements in all fields related to the protection of human rights, including the freedom of opinion and expression and media and press freedoms, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.
These freedoms have received all support, care and attention from His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman, the Prime Minister, and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said.
Their belief is that freedom of expression and honest opinions are a fundamental right of all the people and a main pillar in building an advanced, developed and prosperous society, the minister stressed during an online workshop on the role of the media and the press and the National Action Plan for Human Rights.
The workshop, the second of a series organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, brought together Al Zayani, Information Minister Ali bin Mohammed Al Romaihi, officials and numerous media figures.
Al Zayani noted that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right stipulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in the international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The minister stressed in his opening remarks the right to privacy, especially since social media have led to the emergence of the so-called citizen journalist.
These rights are not absolute, but may be subject to some restrictions such as the rights or reputation of others or to protect national security, public order, public health or public morals or to confront hatred and to support and perpetuate the values of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and respect for others, he said.
Freedom of opinion and expression in Bahrain is safeguarded by its constitution that guarantees every person the right to express their opinion without prejudice to the foundations of the Islamic faith and the unity of the people and in a manner that does not provoke division or sectarianism, the minister said.
The Bahraini constitution also guarantees freedom of the press, printing and publishing in accordance with the terms and conditions stipulated by the law. It is also regulated by the Bahraini Press, Printing and Publishing Law that stressed the need not to prejudice it, Al Zayani added.
He indicated that the press and the media in Bahrain have played a distinguished role in the development process of the Kingdom and have undertaken great responsibilities in defending, protecting and promoting human rights and establishing community awareness of human rights, the minister said.
Bahrain’s efforts have resulted in receiving the appreciation of the international community and membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Kingdom seeks through it to extend bridges of cooperation with the aim of respecting and promoting human rights at the international level, Al Zayani added.
The minister called for combating the spread of false and distorted news that could harm good relations between countries.
In his remarks, Al Romaihi said the media holds a significant place in the field of human rights and public freedoms that constitute the core of human rights.
The media also has great influence in building awareness and shaping public opinion, holds an important oversight role and has the ability to provide information and to raise issues, the minister said.
This effect has intensified with the rapid development of communication technologies with each of them affecting the others and being influenced by them, he added.
Bahrain has special experiences in all areas and they are the robust base that we use to communicate with the outside world. Bahrain has built up its own peculiar experience and has not duplicated others’ experience. The political and economic history of Bahrain does not need to replicate the experiences of others, Al Romaihi said.
“The freedom of the press can be achieved only through ensuring a free and independent media environment based on pluralism. The Kingdom of Bahrain has guaranteed, through its constitution, the freedom of opinion and expression. Bahrain has also accessed a number of Arab and international human rights treaties and covenants,” the minister said.
“Bahrain does not suffer from any legislative vacuum regarding the work of the press and the media, but there is a need for amendments as a continuous matter in the state of institutions and law. It is difficult to separate human rights activities at the national level from human rights activities at the international level. The Kingdom, through working on and later on implementing the National Action Plan for Human Rights, unambiguously announces to its people and to the whole world its human rights agenda.”
The high number of votes that Bahrain obtained in the Human Rights Council and its membership in the Council three times are a clear expression of the appreciation of the international community of Bahrain’s long-standing record and its great achievements that qualify the Kingdom to speak about them with pride in international forums, Al Romaihi said.