The bill of Radio & TV broadcast … A new violation against the freedom of opinion and expression

July 10th, 2008 by Editor

 

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR)expresses  its deepest worries about  what has been issued in the Egyptian newspapers on Wednesday 9/7/2008, concerning the government attempt to propose a new  bill to organize Radio & TV broadcast. After reviewing the clauses of the proposed bill , EOHR  found that the bill has several restrictions imposed on the freedom of opinion and expression . 

This right is considered one of the basic guarantees of any democratic system, and  it is also protected  by the international covenants  including the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights  whose  Article 19 confirmed the right of everybody  to practice the freedom of opinion and expression and  to  hold opinions without intervention and receive and impart news and ideas without restrictions “ . Also Article 19 of  the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that   “Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference and  everyone has the right  to freedom of expression”  . These above mentioned principles have been included in the international covenants concerned with human rights which were ratified by the Egyptian government and became part and parcel from the interior law according to Article 151 of the Constitution .

 

The Organization of Article 19 determined 9 principles concerning the citizen  right to get information as follows :

 

The first principle : It requires the necessary of providing all the required official information to the public authority and other public bodies  for study .So the application of  exceptions should  be limited and the government takes charge  of withholding information on citizens.  

As for the second principle , it stipulates that the public authority is responsible for disseminating  information related to  how to manage its public bodies.

 

The third principle comes to stipulate that the legislations which organize the access of information should include effective measures to inform  citizens their rights to get information .

 

 

As for the ninth principle entitled “ Protection for whom inform with information   stipulates that the legislations should include rules to protect individuals from the legal or administrative punishments .

 

In this regard, EOHR  puts some observations  concerning the new bill as follows :

 

1-  Article (1 ) of the bill stipulates  on establishing a body for monitoring  the content of all means of broadcast  ,TV& Radio stations ,internet sites including Face Book website . This body includes  Minister of Information and membership representatives of the ministries of Interior ,Foreign Affair , Communication ,Culture ,Finance and National Security Body .Also the bill stipulates on the full control of giving licenses and permits related to broadcast  and re-broadcast of Radio & TV in Egypt(the geographical scope of Egypt)  including  the «areas organized by special legislations», which means the entrance of  licensed Satellite channels within the  Free Zone  in the framework of this body .

 

2- Article (2) of the bill stipulates that the responsible persons for Radio &TV broadcasting services abide by these rules as follows :-

 

         Aboveboard and transparent information and protect the public’s right to get the accurate  information .

         Protecting the free competition among competitors in the field of Radio and  TV broadcast and protecting the rights and interests of recipients of services .

         Social peace , national unit , the principle of citizenship, public morals   shouldn’t be influenced negatively .

 

3- The bill stipulates on monitoring the contents which are  shown in satellite channels .Also it sentences to imprisonment  whom gives information or data related to the activity of the body according to Article 32 the matter which prevents mass media to issue any news or statements or reports concerning its activities  as if it is a“ National Security Body “  

 

4- Controlling the process of giving licenses and permits and re-broadcasting in the geographical scope of Egypt including  the «areas organized by special legislations», which means the entrance of  licensed Satellites channels within the Free Zone  in the framework of this body ( Article 1 paragraph 9 and Article 20 ) .

 

5- The arbitrariness of the expected bill which imposes restrictions on Satellite channels so much so that the satellite stations are closed  ,also Article  (38) stipulates that the court confiscates copies subject of the crime and tools and machines used  , the decision of conviction  is issued in a daily newspaper  on the account of the convict . Also the court is allowed when issued the decision to close the place used by the convict to commit his crime a period not exceed 6 months  . Mandatory lock-out the place is executed in the case of returning back to the same crime  stipulated in the previous article .

 

In addition , we can say that this law is just a step in the series of restrictions imposed on the freedom of opinion and expression , yesterday was the draft law on the protection of data and information and combating electronic crimes , and today a new bill  for  organizing  Radio & TV broadcast and establishing a body for monitoring all means of broadcast including the internet the matter which conflicts with the international covenants concerned with human rights and Egyptian Constitution  . So EOHR calls for sending a copy of this bill to the  concerned sides and human rights activists , media and law professors  to look into the different point of views concerning the issue . It also calls civil society organizations , broadcast stations , independent newspapers ,electronic press for working as a teamwork to confront  such bills that restrict the freedom of opinion and expression .

 

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