“Intellectual Terrorism and the Policy of Censorship,” EOHR Report Released

August 15th, 2012 by Editor

Today, on the 15th of August, 2012, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights has released a report titled “Intellectual Terrorism and the Policy of Censorship.”  The report analyzed the status of media and journalism freedoms over a period of time that extended from the Revolution of Janurary 25th, 2011 until the middle of August, 2012.  Apart from the unfortunate identification of exemplary incidents of censorship and the stifling of media freedoms during this period, the report put forward a number of corrective suggestions.

                In reporting on the incidents of violation against the freedom of expression, the report cites some 212 violations.  These violations varied in nature and included, but were not limited to, 109 cases of assault on the persons of journalism and media professionals as well as bloggers.  Also, 48 cases included the legal submission of official complaints against media professionals in such a fashion that they constituted a violation of their right to the freedom of expression.  Moreover, there were 27 incidents of the submission of “Hisba” complaints against journalism and media professionals, restricting their freedom of expression by identifying their professional work as a “violation of social standards.”  Furthermore, the report cited 14 incidents of violations against the freedom of the press and the right to public access of information.   Gravely, the report also notes that the freedom of expression was brought before various courts, (especially military courts during the transitional period), at least 7 different times.   Additionally, the report cites the occurrence of 7 incidents in which intellectual innovation and creativity were stifled.

                In response to these occurrences, Mr. Hafez Abo Seada, President of EOHR, affirmed that these violations carried out against journalists and Egypt’s various media institutes were absolutely incompatible with the nature of the current post-revolutionary environment.   Mr. Abo Seada reiterated the importance of protecting and promoting the various human rights during this period and seeks to remind Egyptian President, Pr. MohamadMorsi, of his pledge to preserve and maintain the freedom of expression.

                Mr. Abo Seada also requests the immediate alteration of the authorities’ adopted attitudes towards the freedom of expression and the free exchange of information, especially in the post-revolutionary period.   Mr. Abo Seada also demands that an end be put to the overall policy of censorship as an outdated state tool that has been left over from the era of a fallen regime.  The implementations of this policy, that still include the storming of satellite television channels, the threat to revoke licenses, the forced closures of press outlets, the prosecution of activists and bloggers, and the outright attack on journalists, must all come to an end.  Otherwise, this continued intellectual terrorism against all opposing views will drag Egyptian society back into an era in which violence was used to stifle intellectual expression.

                The report on “Intellectual Terrorism and the Policy of Censorship” concluded with a number of corrective suggestions, and they included:

1 – A request to the current President, Pr. Mohamed Morsi, that his government adopt effective measures towards the promotion of the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press while working towards the overall expansion of the freedoms available to professional journalism and the eradication of any restrictive impositions.

2 – A request that the appropriate authorities adopt all legal measures available to ensure the personal safety of media professionals from detention, attack, or murder, their protection from arbitrary exposure, surveillances, or repression, and especially as concerns those professionals whose opinions oppose the current religious mainstream.

3 – A requested revision of the current legislation that addresses the freedoms of the press and the freedoms that affect the media in general – written, electronic, visual, and audio.  This revision is necessary so long as the current legislation does not grant media autonomy nor ensure its rights to expressive freedoms, or the independent freedoms of information gathering and publication, or the right of the media profession to independently organize and unionize.  New legislation is urged to address the autonomy of the Journalists Syndicate, the free exchange of information, and the creation of a comprehensive media syndicate.

4 – A requested inclusion of a Constitutional text that will enshrine the freedom and autonomy of the media as well as the freedom of the press in specific.  In this regard, the report also requests that international media standards be implemented in domestic legislation and policies concerning the editorial aspects of the media as well as their sources of funding.  Furthermore, the report calls for the revision of the system of ownership that affects State owned media sources, and the enhancement of the relationship between the Egyptian media and Egypt’s citizens – allowing for the individual’s right to the freedom of expression.

5 –A request to open the ownership of media sources and publication to the public – in accordance with the system of notification; thereby allowing for the expressive rights of unions, various parties, other legal persons, and the average Egyptian citizen.  The report also includes a request for the State to revise its ownership of various media institutes so as to avoid the monopolization of the media by any single party or individual.

6 – A request to immediately end the imprisonment of journalists in relation to publication cases along with the sufficing of monetary penalties.  Also, the report suggests that a media charter be created as a guideline for professional media conduct; the revision of legislation and policies concerning relevant administrative  and financial bodies so as to avoid the occurrence of corruption within media institutes; and the creation of internalized monitoring mechanisms within those institutes – including the annual self-publication of financial reports.

7 –A request to eradicate all of the impositions restricting the open access to information, and the institutionalization of legislation that will promote transparency and the open and easy access of citizens to all of the information that is relevant to public interest. The report requests that legislation be issued to protect the public right to access information to the extent that it is fully compatible with a democratic society.

8 – A request to end the Shura Council’s direct control over the media and the creation of an autonomous national council responsible for the management of media affairs.

9 –  A request to end all restrictions currently imposing upon the freedom of expression, the freedom of the press, and the freedom  of broadcasting, and the free and open exchange of information.  Also, the report requests that decisions to close down the operations of satellite television channels be issued from a judicial authority and not be implemented as asa  mere administrative action.

10 – A request to enhance the standard of living of media professionals by ensuring their economic and social well-being and the establishment of a minimum wage.

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