Bahrain’s Shura Council to draft new Press laws

Bahrain's Shura Council members have expressed plans to go ahead with their plans to draft new press laws for Bahrain's press and replace existing laws that threaten journalists with prison sentences for legal breaches. They have rejected a request by Bahrain’s Information Minister Nabeel Al Hamer to postpone the proposed law until the government-drafted legislation has been discussed.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  January 21, 2004

Shura Council members have expressed plans to draft new press laws for Bahrain to replace existing laws that threaten journalists with prison sentences for legal breaches. They have rejected a request by Bahrain’s Information Minister Nabeel Al Hamer to postpone the proposed law, while the government-drafted legislation has been discussed. The Council instead voted to go ahead with their own law, which members say will be based on a totally different philosophy that grants the Press more freedom. The council has discussed plans to propose new laws in November, before the announcement of government legislation which promised amends to Bahrain's current Press laws. The government-drafted laws are currently on the parliament's agenda, but some Shura members expect MPs to reject it in favour of the council's proposal. Legislation and legal affairs committee head Mohammed Al Halwachi mentioned that the council's upcoming legislation will not focus on punitive legislation as the current laws do. "The philosophy of our proposed laws will be totally different," he said. "They will, for example, not grant any minister the right to shut down presses by direct order. All such matters will have to be taken to the court to settle. Prison sentences will have as little focus as possible under our proposed laws," stated Al Halwachi. The law states that because the council's project was launched first, government legislation can only serve as an amendment, added Al Halwachi.

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