The Judicial Branch in Bahrain is Intensifying the Culture of Impunity

LONDON, October 22, 2012 – Bahrain Press Association ("BPA"), the London-based association concerned with defending and addressing issues related to Bahraini media and press people, condemns the verdict issued on October 22, 2012 that acquitted a female police officer from torturing France 24 Correspondent, Ms. Nazeeha Saeed after a series of adjournment that lasted for more than a year. The BPA announces its solidarity with the victimized correspondent to whom Reporters Without Borders and The Committee To Protect Journalists have made it clear that those involved in torturing Ms. Saeed after she was summoned to a police station should be brought to account.

The BPA expresses its deep concern and extreme shock for the promotion of a culture of impunity by the Bahraini regime turning a deaf ear to all human rights undertakings and commitments which it stressed in front of the international community that it would obey by them. Bahrain has neither implemented the recommendations made by the BICI (Bassiouni's Commission) nor had it undertaken to accept the recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights Council last month.

Ms. Saeed's case of torture represents a good example of the human rights violations and the crimes against humanity faced by local and foreign media professionals by the hands of the Bahraini authorities leading to the killings of three of them since 14 February 2011. The ongoing violations have also led to the torture, trials, and dismissal of many journalists and media professionals on charges related to exercising freedom of expression.

The BPA Monitoring Body kept an eye on the overall judicial trials related to the media professionals and it is with great sorrow that there was no assurance that the Bahraini authorities have taken tangible measures to fulfill its undertakings. This deeply raises much fear that the repressive tools by the Bahraini authorities are still in place and intensifying a culture of impunity. It also casts much doubt on the autonomy of the judicial system of which rulings should be reconsidered as it functions with direct subordination to the regime.

As yet, the Bahraini authorities procrastinate to bring to account those responsible for murdering Publisher Kareem Fakhrawi and Blogger Zakariya Al Asheeri (both murdered in 2011 while in detention due to sever torture and their murder was later proved and documented by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry "BICI") Photographer Ahmed Ismail (killed on March 31, 2012 by armed militia of the interior ministry), and the torturing of many other media professionals who are still sustaining corporeal damages.

The BPA is calling upon all Bahraini-based media professionals and journalists to go on a hunger strike for one day (Tuesday, October 25, 2012) and pay a solidarity visit to Ms. Nazeeha Saeed along with all those victimized.

The BPA also condemns the arrest of 4 bloggers on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 who have been jailed since then with charges of insulting the Bahrain's monarch by posts on "Twitter". The BPA further points at transforming bloggers' contexts into criminal offenses before courts, which raises much threat on the freedom of expression in the country.

The BPA is calling upon the various NGOs to use their influence to place much pressure on the Bahraini authorities to ensure the safety of media professionals, journalists, and bloggers whose abuses by the regime have been documented in the periodical BPA reports, reports of interrogation committees, and international NGOs.