Bahrain to set up high media council

March 5, 2012

Bahrain is setting up an independent high media council that will provide advice on media draft laws, monitor all media for possible incitement to rights violations and look into complaints against the media.

“The establishment of the council, the first of its kind in the region, is in line with the recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) on relaxing control,” said Nawaf Al Muawda, the head of publications at the Bahrain Information Authority (IAA).

The BICI, tasked in late June by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to look into the events that hit Bahrain in February and March 2011 and their consequences, issued a searing report and a series of recommendations in November following four months of investigations.

It recommended called for establishing “professional standards for the media and other forms of publications that contain an ethical code and an enforcement mechanism, designed to uphold ethical and professional standards in order to avoid incitement to hatred, violence and intolerance, without prejudice to internationally protected rights of freedom of expression.”

According to Al Muawda, the establishment of the council is also in response to a recommendation made by participants in the national dialogue held in July to help heal wounds that scarred the Bahraini society.

“The council will oversee private and government print, audio and visual media and will serve as a consultant to the government and other parties,” he said. “It will be responsible for everything that is published or broadcast, will ensure that there is no incitement to hatred or violence in the media and that all media are committed to pluralism in their views and programmes and to the code of ethics.”

In its recommendation, the BICI called for “appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to prevent incitement to violence, hatred, sectarianism and other forms of incitement which lead to the violation of internationally protected human rights, irrespective of whether the source is public or private.”

The council will give views on draft laws and licence requests, will receive complaints from people against the media and could, at a later stage, serve as arbitrator in arguments between different parties, Al Muawda said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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