His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa delivered a keynote address marking the World Press Freedom Day which is observed on the 3rd of May.
He praised the role of the print, audio, visual and electronic media on the occasion, hailing their enlightenment, sense of responsibility, awareness and intellectual creativity.
“This year’s celebration, under the theme “Information as a Public Good”, coincides with the the 30th anniversary of the historic Windhoek Declaration” he said, hailing the longstanding history of the national press and responsible media for their vital role over more than eight decades in spreading trues facts and information, and serving high national interests in total professionalism and objectivity.
He reiterated keenness, since the launch of the National Action Charter, on providing constitutional and legal guarantees to protect the rights of journalists and media professionals to express their views safely and independently.
He underlined their freedom to seek information and ideas and to receive and impart them without restrictions, as it is one of the most important rights in Bahrain’s democratic society, taking into account the respect for others’ rights and reputation and the protection of national security, health and public morals, in accordance with international covenants.
He said that the COVID-19 challenges demonstrated the importance of the national media role as an active partner within Team Bahrain, led by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister.
He praised the national media’s commitment to publish documented information in confronting false and misleading rumors and news, deepening societal awareness of the importance of precautionary measures and stimulating voluntary and humanitarian work.
This media role, HM the King said, contributed to spreading reassurance, preserving public health and safety for all citizens and residents, and highlighting the Bahraini honourable model in managing the crisis and mitigating its fallout in Bahrain and abroad.
He praised the Ministry of Information and all its personel, who were able to harness all media capabilities and digital platforms to publish news and information of quality and credibility, and to ensure the free flow of ideas and news and their circulation without limits other than observing the national conscience and adhering to the ethics of the profession.
He praised the ministry’s successful cooperation with the National Communication Centre (NCC) and the Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) to reflect the nation’s conscience, unity, and authentic cultural and civilizational identity, and the aspirations of its children to achieve sustainable economic and social security.
He commended the constructive cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of government to discuss amendments to the law regulating the press, printing and publishing, in a manner that meets the aspirations of the media and come up with a more advanced and comprehensive modern law that promotes responsible liberties and heeds the national interests in a society dominated by the values of justice, equality and equal opportunities.
He stressed the importance for the new law to keep abreast of the electronic media strides and to reflect Bahrain’s pioneering national achievements in digital transformation and modernisation of information and communication technology infrastructure.
“We directed to draw up a new and comprehensive law to combat hate speech, extremism and contempt for religions in expressing opinion in all its conventional and new forms”, he said.
He said that the move aims to support national efforts to spread the values of moderation, tolerance, disseminate the culture of peace and dialogue among all religions, cultures and civilizations, and to confront extremist ideas that fuel discord, violence and fan the flames of terrorism
He renewed the call to the international community to strengthen legislative and technical cooperation and adopting an international convention to criminalise religious, sectarian and racist hate speech in all its forms and forms.
He stressed the importance of such international covenant in combating Islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-Muslims hatred, and preventing the misuse of the media, information, internet networks, social media and open spaces to spread rumors or incite on extremism, violence and terrorism, and to control the media and information chaos in line with the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the religious as well as and all human values.
“Bahrain will remain a beacon of creativity and knowledge, and a global model of tolerance and human and civilised coexistence thanks to its advanced constitutional and legal system, and the contributions of its early pioneers in inculcating the concepts of patriotism, tolerance and belonging”, he said, hailing citizens’ dedication in serving the nation across various development sectors.
“Community awareness and solidarity among all social segments alongside valiant defense and security forces is the safety valve in the face of challenges”, he said.
On the occasion of the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan, HM the King prayed to Allah the Almighty to protect the Kingdom of Bahrain, bless its loyal people, as well the Arab and Islamic nations and the whole world with security, peace and health and guide them all on the path of success to overcome the pandemic and work together for the sake of humanity.
Source: Bahrain News Agency