“Al Farrain” Satellite Channel closed for 45 Days in Violation of the Freedom of Expression

August 10th, 2012 by Editor

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights strongly condemns the recent warning issued to the “Al Farrain” Satellite Channel, keeping it off air for a consecutive period of 45 days, and threatening to revoke the channel’s license if it’s “transgressions” persist.  This followed immediately after the channel’s Chairman, Mr. Tawfeeq Okasha, verbally threatened the Egyptian President, Pr. Mohamed Morsi.  The Decision to halt the channel’s operations is, in essence, a blatant violation of broadcasting freedoms, thereby stifling a primary source of news and information.  Moreover, it is by extension a blatant violation of the international conventions on both broadcasting rights and the open exchange of information. 

            On Thursday the 9th of July, 2012, an Order was issued to halt the operations of the “Al Farrain” Channel for a period of 45 days along with the issuance of a stern warning to revoke the channel’s licensing if its broadcasts did not cease to incite towards the assassination of the President and the overthrow of the government.  Furthermore, the State Security Prosecution Office has investigated three formal complaints against Mr. Tawfeeq Okasha in this regard, charging him with both inciting towards the assassination of the President and the overthrow of the government.

            In discussing the matter, Mr. Hafez Abo Seada, President of EOHR, explained that within democratic societies, the media is often treated as a fourth branch of governance, often meaning that the more autonomous and free a nation’s media is, the more democratic that society is likely to be.  Mr. Seada also referenced a 13th of October, 2010 Statement by EOHR condemning the then issued order to suspend the “Al Nas” and “Al Hafez” Channels.

In this same regard, Mr. Seada is reaffirming his request that authorities allow “Al Farrain” to resume broadcasting, and that they halt all forms of censorship and suppression currently being imposed upon the media and thereby stifling the freedom of expression.  In the least, EOHR would also like to emphasize the importance of issuing orders of this nature strictly under a judicial decree and not as an administrative action. Such an overstep may allow executive powers to suspend oppositional media and press outlets, without any judicial oversight

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