Another Setback for Freedom of Expression

August 11th, 2012 by Editor

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) expresses its most sincere concern at the continued use of censorship as a State policy in dealing with media and journalism professionals.   The most recent implementation of this stifling practice includes the State order to confiscate a series of publications by the “El Dostor” Newspaper that were scheduled for publication on Saturday, 11th of August, 2012.   This action was based on the investigations carried out by the Prosecutor General within the context of the reports submitted to the Prosecutor General’s Office.  The “El Dostor” Newspaper was charged with the alleged incitement of sectarian sedition, the insult of the President, and the incitement of social chaos.

Several individuals were noted to have submitted formal complaints to the Publishing Crime Department within the Ministry of Interior, accusing the “El Dostor” Newspaper, and the Newspaper’s Chairman Reda Edward and Editor-in-Chief Islam Afifi of slandering the President and inciting sectarian sedition in several consecutive issues.  Complaints stated that specific words and article titles that were used while mentioning the President were inappropriate.  Those who submitted formal complaints did so under the pretext of being ordinary citizens who feared for the safety and stability of the nation, and who personally found that by disrespecting the President, the Newspaper had disrespected the entire population. Furthermore, the issued complaints also held that “El Dostor’s” headlines were a principle cause to the sectarian clashes of Dahshour, and subsequently requested that appropriate legal action be taken against the Chairman of the Newspaper, as well as the Editor-in-Chief.  Authorities called for the appearance of Editor-in-Chief Islam Afifi before the Prosecutor General for questioning in light of the submitted complaints and the investigation’s findings.

As regards these events, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights affirms that the publications of “El Dostor” Newspaper did not transgress permissible criticism, and that the right to criticize within the press is an expressed right within the Constitutional Declaration as well as various international conventions that regard human rights and, in particular, the freedom of expression.  Moreover, EOHR reaffirms that the freedom of expression is, in and of itself, a cornerstone in the foundation of any democratic society, and therefore emphasizes the importance of preserving that freedom.

Mr. Hafez Abo Seada, President of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, asserts that the primary role of independent media and journalism in any democratic society is to monitor that society and its functional mechanisms; including elements of government.  A free and autonomous media is thereby enabled to promote accountability, responsibility, transparency, and the free exchange of vital information while continuously endorsing and representing the rights and issues of average citizens.  In this regard, a free and autonomous media can act as a vital tool in the fight against corruption, for example – a primary obstacle in the way of Egypt’s social and economic development.

 

In this respect, Mr. Seada urges authorities to comprehensively modify the body of laws that currently restrict the freedom of the press, their acquisition of relevant information, and their capacity to publish their verified findings.  Mr. Seada underscores the presences of an entire legal arsenal of restrictions inhibiting Egyptian media and journalism, the least of them embodied in the Penal Code and the lack of legislation promoting the free and open exchange of information.

Mr. Seada, and the whole of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, requests that the Egyptian legislative structure be made more open to the freedom of expression, in accordance with international standards and the post-revolutionary environment.

This entry was posted on Saturday, August 11th, 2012 at 4:05 pm and is filed under Statements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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