Reporters Without Borders (RSF) listed the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, on a blacklist of press freedom predators in the world.
The organization said that King Hamad, who has ruled Bahrain since March 6, 1999, practises repression and persecution of journalists.
The RSF noted that Bahrain ranks 168 out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
It added that the Bahraini monarchy had taken a stricter approach toward journalists since the Arab Spring protests erupted in 2011.
According to the organization, journalists and photographers in Bahrain have been subjected to constant harassment, and there is no longer any independent media.
Several critical journalists are serving long prison sentences in Bahrain, including life imprisonment, for participating in protests, acts of sabotage, or supporting terrorism.
Some journalists who fled abroad have also been convicted in absentia or stripped of their Bahraini citizenship on direct orders from King Hamad.
Bahraini authorities are currently detaining at least 11 journalists. Dozens were arrested and tortured in the weeks following anti-government protests in 2011.
Female journalists and bloggers reported constant sexual assault and ill-treatment.
After criticizing the use of torture against prisoners and Bahrain’s participation in the Yemen war, blogger Nabeel Rajab spent several years. He was later released on the condition of remaining silent.
Prominent journalist Mahmoud Al-Jaziri, who was the editor-in-chief of Al-Wasat, the country’s only independent newspaper, now closed, is still held in solitary confinement.
The organization noted that King Hamad had launched baseless lies about defending press freedom in the country.
From that statement, King Hamad published on May 2, 2021, on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, in which he stated, “We have affirmed our interest and interest, since the beginning of our development process, in providing constitutional and legal guarantees to protect the rights of journalists and media professionals to express their opinions safely and independently, and their freedom to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas without restrictions.”
“We fully and continuously support the rights of journalists, writers, media workers and organizations, who carry out their noble mission without any threat or abuse.
“We do not and will not tolerate in the future any insult, arrest or arrest of any journalist who exercised their legal and constitutional right to freedom of expression,” he added.
Reporters Without Borders list of press freedom predators around the world includes 37 heads of state or government who carry out widespread repression of press freedom.