Bahraini journalists are not being tracked by security authorities, the new chairman of the Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) has said.
"I have had strong confirmations from the interior ministry that no journalist currently outside Bahrain is being tracked," Eisa Al Shayji said. "Any journalist who left Bahrain during or after the unrest is free to come home any time he chooses," he said as the BJA general assembly elected its new board members.
The biennial elections ushered in six new members on the eight-member board and re-elected Al Shaygi who ran unopposed.
"I have contacted some journalists who are outside Bahrain right now and clarified the situation with them. I told them that I had an official document from the interior ministry about not tracking any journalists and that they should come home to continue their work normally," Al Shaygi said.
The BJA has come under attack from the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) for allegedly failing to defend Bahraini journalists who were detained after the imposition of the emergency laws.
"We did seek to defend the detained journalists and I personally met twice with officials from the interior ministry," Al Shaygi said. "There are journalists who have been detained, but it seems it was in their personal capacities and not as journalists. The ministry officials told me that they were not held as journalists, but in security-related issues," he said.
Two women and two editors in chief were among the six new board members.
During the debate, sports journalists and photographers said that they felt underrepresented in the association and wanted more attention, better counseling and greater training opportunities.