A new media and publications law is set to be presented to the National Assembly in the coming days, revealed Information Minister Ali Al Rumaihi.

He also assured National Assembly and Parliament Speaker Fouzia Zainal that the government would work hand-in-hand with legislators to achieve people’s aspirations.

The government was keen to develop the current legislative framework for media and publications, and support existing establishments, he added during a meeting with Ms Zainal in her office at the National Assembly complex in Gudaibiya yesterday.

“(The law) will ensure freedom of speech and expression in accordance with the rule of law, national principles and vocational responsibility,” he said.

The GDN reported in March that the ministerial committee for social services, telecommunications and media chaired by Deputy Premier Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa was putting final touches to the new media and publications law.

It will also seek to allow media personnel and journalists the freedom to seek information, protect them from unfair dismissal or being put in custody.

The draft was earlier presented to the Bahrain Journalists’ Association (BJA) and editors-in-chief of newspapers before the legislative aspect was reviewed by the government.

Ms Zainal said a modern law was necessary besides continued government support to media and publishing establishments that have been adversely affected by Covid-19.

“The ministry is working to protect national media establishments, but there is a need for a modern law and continued government support,” she said.

“Media, publications and government-run establishments are seeing progress reflected through outstanding work which we want to continue.”

BJA president Ahdeya Al Sayed said the Cabinet should refer the new law as “an urgent matter legislation” giving Parliament and the Shura Council two weeks each to review and approve.

“Media and publishing establishments are barely surviving, and the law will give them a lifeline as it will lift the current limitations of the 2002 Publications Law are removed,” she said.

“We have to give feedback to both legislative chambers to ensure that our suggestions are incorporated since we are the ones set to benefit from a progressive law which should come as an urgent legislation because more time can’t be missed.”

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