In an official call by the Bahrain Information Minister and less than a week from barring access to the home page of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights [1], the Bahraini Authorities further blocked seven different sites [2] making the total number of known sites to be 18 (See Appendix below). The Authorities went on to state that legal action will be taken against these sites [3]. The reason behind this blockade is that "they continued to debate the Dr Al Bandar affair after a court order banning the Press from doing so " the Bahrain's Information Ministry official stated. The decision of blocking these and other site was made in accordance with Royal Decree Code 47 of 2002, dealing with publications and the Press. This code was drafted by the executive branch and promulgated in 2002 among 56 decrees, in law format, and aimed to exert more restrictions on civic activities in format of expression or protest.

BAHRAIN status:

As per 2006 world Press Freedom Index, sponsored by Reporters Sans Frontiers, Bahrain has been ranked 111th out of 168 countries [4]. After several calls to join the two international covenants, Bahrain has one year membership in the new UNHRC since May 9th 2006. Bahrain acceded the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on September 20th, 2006. A brief preview for Bahrain human rights status has been provided by Human Rights Watch [5] in its initiative to assess candidacy for the first UN Human Rights Council.

What could be done to help?

HAQ has expressed its concerns about the deterioration in human rights, especially with regards to freedom of expression, and would pledge that a universal move is initiated towards improving that situation. This would include the following steps:

1- Issue a public statement denouncing the move by the Bahraini Authorities to apply fierce grip on the freedom of expression.

2- Communicate with the Bahraini Authorities, addressing Minister of Information, demanding an immediate release on the restrictions imposed on the freedom of expression in Bahrain, starting by lifting the blockade on the barred sites.

3- Join the campaign to review Bahrain human rights records as it is a member of the new UNHRC.


Appendix: Some Barred Sites in Bahrain

Bahrain Freedom Movement Bahrain Forum National Committee of Martyrs and Victims of Torture Bahrain forums Wattani (the National ) Forums Tubli village forum Alsaheefa (the Journal) Electronic Journal (Civilized Dialogue) Ahrar Al-Bahrain Bahrain times Bahrain Center for Human Rights Middle East news portal English-language blog,