Bahrain authorities launch new legal campaign to clamp down on social media activists

In response to the reported restrictive measures taken by the government of  Bahrain to crack down on online activists in May 2019, the Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) denounced such practices that quell on freedom of expression online and called upon the authorities to amend the legislation that falls short of protecting basic human rights. They further requested the release of the detainees who were arrested for exercising their right to free expression. On 22 May 2019, a draft law on heightening the penalty for social media misuse was launched by the Council of Representatives’ Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence, and National Security. The draft law focuses mostly on crimes such as ‘defamation, insult, spreading rumours and infringing on individuals, bodies, entities and state institutions.’ Additionally, On 30 May 2019, the Ministry of Interior conveyed a message from the Ministry of Interior’s General-Directorate of Anti-Corruption, Economic and Electronic Security (GDAEES) via Twitter stating that ‘Anti-cybercrime: Those who follow inciting accounts that promote sedition and circulate their posts will be held legally accountable.’ Following the message, it was reported that Bahraini individuals were targeted with a text from the Cybercrime Division, which stated: ‘Dear citizen be careful not to follow the accounts inciting hatred and spreading rumors since you will be legally accountable. Regards, the Directorate of Cyber Crime.’