Friday, 3 May 2013

World Press Day

Press release ANHRI
Cairo, 2nd May 2013

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said that the world will celebrate on Friday 3rd of May, the World Press Freedom Day, while journalists and media workers in Egypt are challenging severe restrictions by the state authorities and the ruling party after 10 months of electing the first president after the 25th January revolution. Until now the authorities did not take any steps towards the liberation of press and media, but on the contrary, the journalists faced complete absence for the political will that can provide them with atmosphere of freedom that enables them to do their job. The State did not care about their security during clashes and protests, and they suffered various kinds of abuses like beatings, breaking cameras, detained during protests and judiciary pursue for prominent journalists and media specialists” (more information about freedom of expression in the first hundred days of President Morsi era).

After more than four months, the killer of Egyptian journalist Husseini Abudef was not punished yet, even though there were many reports that were submitted to the Public Prosecution, which did not take any serious action towards serious investigations to bring the killer to justice. Husseini was killed while he was performing his job during clashes and violence actions that erupted around the presidential palace (Al Etehadya) in December 2012, his death happened as a result of armed attacks from supporters of Constitutional Declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi, and they attack the peaceful sit-in organized by demonstrators belonging to civil powers, and they broke up the sit-in using violence means. Al-Husseini was shot will a bullet in the head that led to his death, in addition to stealing his camera. (For more information about Al Etehadya events and the killing of Al-Husseini Abudef).

In addition, the journalists and media specialists working in independent media were exposed to many attempts to intimidate and frighten them from doing their job or criticize the authorities; the Media Production City was surrounded twice by the followers of political Islam trend. They attacked many journalists and guests and tried to threaten the independent channels to force it to change its political approach; meanwhile the State authorities remained silent and did not provide protection for journalists and media specialists during performing their job.

In addition, the judiciary pursue journalists and media professionals via submitting reports against them to the Attorney General, whether by supporters or the presidency which follow the journalists and media professionals, through submitting many reports that calls for performing investigations with them for loose charges like “insulting the president and distributing false news”. Various media professionals and journalists were called for investigation by the public prosecutor that ignored the seriousness of these reports against charges that do not exist but only in countries that are subject to authoritarian rule designed to control the media and ways of education. From those media professionals; “Ibrahim Eissa,” presenter in “Al Kahera Walnas”, “Basem Youssef” the presenter of “Al Barnameg” on CBC, who was subjected to investigation and then released after paying 15 thousand LE, “Mahmoud Saad” presenter on “Al-Nahar” and his guest Dr. “Manal Omar” who were subjected to investigation and released after paying 5 thousand LE, journalist and writer “Khaled Salah” the chief editor of “Al Youm Al Sabe’”, “Ola Shafei” the writer in the same newspaper and many other media professionals and journalists who were pursuit after, and exposed to threats and intimidation to prevent them from doing their job. (For more details about the cases of insulting the president.)

The public media (official) still suffering from being controlled by the state grip, in terms of ownership pattern or management and its editorial policy, that adopt the authority approach, trying to justify the authority and please it all the time. Concerning the workers in “Maspero”, which represents at least 50% of the media in Egypt, are facing the risk of being punished administratively or facing suspension from work in case they did not agree with the authorities or called for the liberalization of official media, as well as changing its editorial policies. Many journalists, technicians and directors have been subjected to penalties, lead by the well-known Bothaina Kamel and Hala Fahmy who were suspended because one of its program “Al Dameer” episodes (for more information: Maspero in the era of the first elected president: continual violations and no intention for reforms)

Moreover, the new Constitution did not prohibit the penalties that deprivate freedom in publishing cases, the Egyptian legislations still include the act of imprisonment in publishing cases. The Shura Council who is having the legislative power did not move towards changing any of the articles restricting freedom of expression in the Egyptian laws, which makes the criminal trials like a sword on the necks of journalists while performing their work. The Arabic Network has detected (70) Article in 8 laws that restricts freedoms in addition to some amendments, and you can check the study by clicking on the following link (articles restricting freedom of expression in Egyptian laws – proposed amendments)

The Arabic Network said, “President Mohamed Morsi must fulfill his pledges, which he was elected upon, which is related to allowing press and media freedom, and the same applies to the Shura Council with Islamist majority, which carries the responsibility of amending the legislations that restrict freedoms. Egyptian state shall also fulfill its international obligations and stop seeking after journalists and providing free and secure environment that allows them to do their work without being physically hurt or sought after”

The Network added: “in that day we will never forget to warn Egyptian authorities from the continuous actions of confiscating the freedom of media, we also confirm that these deeds would not bring any benefit, but the dropping of human rights file Egyptian and more hostile towards Egyptians who called and still calling for change, freedom and social justice”.

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