Freedom House: Bahrain Rated Not Free in the Freedom on the Net 2016 Report

2016-11-19 - 8:31 م

Bahrain Mirror: Freedom House said that Bahrain remains "Not Free" amid tight censorship and a plethora of prosecutions for criticizing parliamentarians. It added that the government continued its efforts to silence online dissidents by forcing them to close their pages or remove content.

The US-based organization focused in its annual Freedom on the Net report for 2016, issued in November, on social media websites, applications and instant messaging.

The report included 65 countries and 88% of total internet users around the globe between June 2015 nd May 2016.

The report highlighted that in January 2016, "Shaikh Ali Salman, leader of the largest political group in Bahrain, who is already imprisoned, was brought from detention to be questioned by the public prosecutor about tweets on "democracy" and "reform" posted by his account @AlwefaGS on Martin Luther King Day. The public prosecutor said the account "incites hatred against the regime, promotes disobedience of the law and calls for holding unauthorized protests." No official charges were pressed, although an investigation into the account operator was ordered."

The Freedom House report also mentioned the verdict issued in December 2015 against award-winning photographer Sayed Ahmed al-Mousawi, sentencing him to 10 years in prison and stripping him of his nationality over "terrorism" charges that included "taking photos of protests and giving SIM cards to terrorists." He was detained in February 2014 and reportedly subjected to beating, hanging, and electrocution to force his confessions.

It further noted that one of the key developments was that the messaging app Telegram was blocked for several days in February 2016.

In a general sense, the report noted that Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016, adding that two-thirds of all internet users - 67 percent - live in countries where criticism of the government, military, or ruling family are subject to censorship.

The Freedom on the Net report also highlighted that Internet freedom has declined for the sixth consecutive year, with more governments than ever before targeting social media and communication apps as a means of halting the rapid dissemination of information, particularly during anti-government protests. Public-facing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been subject to growing censorship for several years, but in a new trend, governments increasingly target voice communication and messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram.

WhatsApp faced the most restrictions, with 12 out of 65 countries blocking the entire service or disabling certain features, affecting millions of its one billion users worldwide. Telegram, Viber, Facebook Messenger, LINE, IMO, and Google Hangouts were also regularly blocked. Ten countries restricted access to platforms that enable voice and video calling over the internet, such as Skype and FaceTime.

Arabic Version    

التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

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