BCHR Publishes Report On Prosecutions For 'Insulting The King'
The authorities in Bahrain have been escalating the crackdown on freedom of expression; with most cases seen at court being over vague charges related to freedom of expression, such as inciting hatred against the regime, inciting terrorism, insulting authoritarian entity, amongst other charges. A new charge that has been increasingly used by the authorities to silence critics and political dissents, is “insulting the King”. The BCHR has documented around 30 cases in 2013 alone wherein people were charged, tried or detained for “insulting the King” because of public speeches, online posts or other forms of peaceful expression.
Although restricting laws already exist in the penal code and are in use by the authorities to criminalize freedom of expression, harsher punishments were proposed and recently approved by the Shura council allowing harsher crackdown on freedom of expression for what is arbitrarily interpreted as “insulting the King”. The new law allows for long prison sentences which could reach up to seven years in addition to up to BHD10,000 in fine.
The BCHR is extremely concerned about this escalation by the authorities in targeting freedom of expression and anyone criticizing the government and the head of all powers in Bahrain, the King.