It's not often that you will find me agreeing with GDN editor Les Horton, but I very much support what he has written in his column this morning. As I hoped it would do in my post last night, the Press is making sure that the news ban by the Public Prosecutor is not accepted so easily. Also, take note that the Press was told not to report about the case, nor the imposition of the ban itself. These types of suspicious moves just beg for conspiracy theories. Here is the column:
Bahrain's media should not be reporting any arrests or pending trials in a manner which may prejudice the outcome of any prosecution.
But that does not in my view justify the Public Prosecutor's arbitrary ban on reporting by the local media of stories relating to the re-arrest of six Bahrainis suspecting of plotting terrorist activities.
If there has been any prejudicial reporting in this case then the tone was set by the detail given in the initial statement on the re-arrests, released by the Interior Ministry.
I would hope to see Bahrain's braver media proprietors challenging the Public Prosecutor's edict in court, for I believe that he is wrong, if not legally then at least in principle.
For justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done and the only way to ensure that is through open reporting in the media.
That reporting should be, as it is in other countries, within strict legal rules governing the manner in which arrests, remands, initial court proceedings and finally a full trial may be covered.
Such is the case in my own country and should the media there break those rules, the penalties can be very serious indeed.
But in such circumstances, the media in Britain is answerable to the courts, where contemptuous or prejudicial reporting must be proven before any penalty may be imposed.
I am disturbed by the Public Prosecutor's remarks published yesterday that he is under no obligation to give reasons to the judiciary for his order banning all reporting of the case.
He says himself that the Constitution guarantees freedom of the Press, publication and circulation, other than in cases where investigations being conducted by the judiciary or Public Prosecutor could be adversely affected.
So surely by definition, any restriction should only cover any reporting which can clearly be shown to be prejudicial - not the blanket ban we have seen in this case.
Surely any ruling that certain reporting may be prejudicial, either to the defence or the prosecution, should be made by an impartial court, not by an authority as directly involved as the prosecuting agency.
Central to all this is the public right to know and if the Constitution recognises that, then surely any restriction of that right must be clearly and publicly justified.
The Public Prosecutor's ban was relayed to the Press by the Information Ministry, with a covering letter stating that the order was not to be published.
So not only was the media banned from reporting on the case, it was initially told not to report the imposition of that ban.
Now how does that fit in with the era of free Press?