The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on the Bahraini Minister of State for Information Affairs to show her commitment to the country’s media freedom and independence and drop her complaint against the respected journalist, Isa Alshaijj.
The IFJ has also called on the Bahraini public prosecutor, not to press defamation charges against the journalist which would result in a court case.
According to IFJ affiliate, the Bahraini Journalists’ Association (BJA), Samira Rajab, the Bahraini Minister of State for Information Affairs, lodged a complaint against Alshaiji, the editor in chief of Bahrain’s Alayyam newspaper, following a story the paper published about a fire in one of the ministry studios.
As a result of the complaint Bahrain’s public prosecutor has now interrogated Alshaijj on two separate occasions and is considering whether to bring criminal defamation charges against him.
“We express our solidarity with and support for the highly respected journalist, Isa Alshaijj, asenior IFJ member who has played a key role in helping to lead and build our affiliate, the Bahraini Journalists’ Association,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We are worried for our colleague’s well-being after he has twice now faced interrogation from the public prosecutor in Bahrain.”
The IFJ has also given its full backing to the BJA, supporting its affiliate’s stance that taking journalists to court is inconsistent with the reform process being lead by the king of Bahrain which highlights the important role of press freedom and independence.
Boumelha continued: “Taking journalists to court for their professional work is against press freedom and freedom of expression, while it also undermines the independence of the media in the country.
“We support the efforts of the BAJ to mediate between the two parties and we call on the minister and the public prosecutor to show their commitment to Bahrain’s new stance on media freedom and to immediately drop any complaints or charges against Alshaijj.”
For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries