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Anti-Cyber Crime Directorate Imposes More Restrictions on People against Normalization in Bahrain: BFHR

2020-10-17 - 4:44 p

Bahrain Mirror: The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR) said that the General Directorate of Anti-Corruption and Economic and Electronic Security is tending to impose more restrictions on freedom of expression due to the Bahraini public opinion's opposition to normalization with the Israeli occupation entity.

On October 12, the Directorate issued a statement threatening the "tweeters" to take legal measures against those who promote what it called "suspicious messages aimed at stirring up sedition, threatening civil peace and social fabric, and destabilizing security and stability in the Kingdom of Bahrain."

The BFHR pointed out that the security authorities, in the context of undermining freedom of expression and their unjustified interference in the work of civil society institutions, obligated on October 12 the "Bahraini Society Against Normalization with Zionist Enemy" (a licensed association in Bahrain) to remove a banner placed on the association's outer wall which contains a phrase denouncing the normalization of relations with the Israeli occupation entity. The BFHR said that this report had no legal justification and was not related to judicial supervision, noting the absence of a legal text that criminalizes hanging banners condemning normalization. In addition, the authorities summoned a number of citizens and activists and forced them to sign pledges not to go out in peaceful gatherings condemning normalization.

The BFHR pointed out that the Bahraini authorities, which control all official media and publishing outlets, are exploiting a number of articles of the Penal Code and others to criminalize freedom of expression of opinion. The BFHR added that the authorities are developing the mechanisms of restriction by benefiting from these legislations to impose further restrictions on freedom of expression in cyberspace - which is considered the most open outlet for Bahrainis to criticize the policies of the authorities, especially since they set the prosecution of activists and dissidents for expressing their opinion on social media as one of the goals of political revenge.

The BFHR pointed out that the authorities manipulatively use terminology such as "threatening civil peace and the social fabric", "defaming and insulting the Kingdom of Bahrain", and "persons convicted in terrorism cases", in order to justify their fierce suppression of freedoms. Meanwhile, the truth is that the official media and social media platforms, which contain active accounts linked to the security services, spread hate messages ceaselessly and without accountability. In addition, the Bahraini judiciary constantly issues harsh rulings of political persecution, based on confessions extracted under torture. Moreover, the Public Prosecution, the Ministry of Interior, or the General Directorate of Anti-Corruption and Economic and Electronic Security consider criticism of public figures, who exercise the highest political powers, an incitement to hatred against the regime, and any criticism of official institutions such as the army or the administrative apparatus is a criminal matter, which constitutes an assault on the essence of freedom of expression.

Arabic Version