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Complainant Name:
Information Affairs Authority of Bahrain

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Independent

Complaint:

The Information Affairs Authority of Bahrain complained to the Press Complaints Commission through Carter-Ruck Solicitors of London that six articles reporting on events in Bahrain, published between February and June 2011, contained inaccuracies.

Resolution:

While the newspaper did not consider that its coverage was inaccurate, it had published a letter from the IAA in response to the claims before the PCC complaint. The complaint was resolved when the newspaper agreed to publish a prominent link to the letter from each of the articles on its website. The letter read as follows:

In response to the article published by Robert Fisk on 14 June, and with reference to previous articles, features and opinions published by your newspaper, the Information Affairs Authority in Bahrain would like to go on record opposing the newspaper's skewed perspective and factually incorrect bias that have provided the basis for the assault on Bahrain and its people.

Using columns, features and news to publish misinformation in repeated attacks on our people and rulers amounts to libel and will be treated as such in accordance with the law.

With reference to Mr Fisk's column on Tuesday, the Kingdom of Bahrain retains the right to apply the law as necessary, regardless of the position and sect of the defendants.

The fact that the people mentioned in his column were medical personnel does not put them above the law. It is for the courts to decide their guilt or innocence, rather than the media, especially those who do not have direct access to the hearings. Regretfully, what Mr Fisk has written is based on slanderous hearsay and ultimately questions the credibility and ethical foundations of his approach to the matter.

With regard to his false allegations that Bahrain has been militarily invaded by Saudi Arabia and is under occupation, please note that the Bahraini government appealed to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Peninsula Shield forces to enter the Kingdom and help protect vital strategic interests during the days of violence and security unrest. GCC Forces came to Bahrain upon an invitation from Bahrain under a pan-GCC agreement and as the result of a commitment that goes along with its strategic allied partnerships. They were neither occupiers nor invaders.

As for the alleged destruction of places of worship, no "ancient Shia mosques" have been destroyed. The Kingdom of Bahrain has a long history of appreciating and preserving its cultural history. It will continue to do so. However, in accordance with the law, illegal structures have been dismantled. They belonged to both Sunnis and Shias, if your newspaper wishes to specify sects. As per the law of the land, all unlicensed constructions have been and will be removed.

Mr Fisk's accusation of people being fired upon from helicopters lacks credibility and is completely fabricated. We are sorry that such erroneous information has not been verified for the sake of the truth. Just like most of the information your daily has been publishing about developments in Bahrain and the people here.

After Mr Fisk's unbalanced coverage of the events in Bahrain, including his assertion on 19 February that there were credible reports of 60 bodies seen in refrigerated trucks when the GCC roundabout was cleared, the Kingdom of Bahrain will continue to be ready to provide facts and figures to those keen on balanced reports and will no longer remain silent to malicious onslaughts and allegations.

Foreign Media and Press, Information Affairs Authority, Kingdom of Bahrain

Date Published: 14/12/2011



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