Bahrain should grant entry to journalists

New York, February 9, 2012–Bahrain has rejected at least six journalists’ applications for entry visas ahead of the anniversary of antigovernment protests that swept the country in February 2011, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to allow journalists into the country to carry out their work freely.

Several international journalists wrote on Twitter over the past two days that their visa applications had been denied. They were told the rejections are due to a “high volume of requests,” but that they are welcome to reapply after February. The journalists had wished to cover the February 14 protest anniversary.

Among the journalists who were denied visas are: The New York TimesNicholas Kristof and Adam B. Ellick; Kristen Chick of the Christian Science Monitor; the BBC’s Cara Swift; Alex Delmar-Morgan of The Wall Street Journal; and Gregg Carlstrom from Al-Jazeera.

“Bahraini authorities act as if they have something to hide by engaging in this crude form of censorship,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator. “The government should immediately reverse its decision and allow international news media to observe and report on the anniversary.”

In 2011, local independent and foreign journalists in Bahrain endured the worst conditions since King Hamad bin Khalifa assumed the throne in 1999. CPJ has documented two journalist deaths in government custody, dozens of detentions, physical assaults, arbitrary deportations, and government-sponsored smearing of journalists, among other violations.