30 January 2007
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Press Freedom Deteriorated in Egypt Last Year



Prison sentences, physical attacks and publication bans are among the press freedom violations that occurred in Egypt last year. In its annual report on press freedom in Egypt, the Arab Press Freedom Watch (APFW) reports on a high number of press freedom violations in this country which at the same time is the home to a vibrant press, including over two hundred independent publications. Many of the violations were linked to political events in Egypt, in connection to which the media were among the main victims. Several politicians filed suits against journalists, among them the former Minister of Housing, Eng. Mohamed Ibrahim Soliman who filed 35 suits, most of them resulting in sentences.Press release by Arab Press Freedom Watch:

Egyptian Press 2006: Less Freedom and More Violations

Cairo- 21-01-2007: Violations of freedom of expression in Egypt are on the increase and Egyptian journalists are slowly loosing their professional independence. State controlled newspapers are suffering from heavy debts, bad management, weak editorial control and the departure of its writers to private newspapers. Although “independent” newspapers are claiming a bigger role in the society, their influence is still limited comparing to the so-called “national papers” according to the latest APFW report on the state of freedom of expression in Egypt. However, “independent” papers are expanding the margin of freedom and destroying editorial “taboos” that hardly been touched before.

Journalists are generally under pressure from their editors and the police system that monitor their work. The new press law imposes responsibility on editors and senior journalists when claims are made against journalists in publishing offences. As editors are sharing responsibility they have adopted more strict ways to control their reporters. In political party newspapers reporters are suffering from bad work environment and the pressure from their political masters. Many political party newspapers are suffering from financial problems, some of them have already stopped such as “Al-Tagamoa” of the leftist Al-Tagamoa party.

While the ruling party has re-launched its newspaper “Al-Watani al- Youm”, all “national” papers and the national news agency (MENA) are suffering from the financial burden of old debts. It seems that these institutions will not be able to satisfy its creditors and may be forced to restructuring. The average annual debt service of these institutions has now reached about L.E 1.2 billion ($230 m). Newly appointed editors of the so-called “national papers” are arguing that they are facing unfair situations as they are not responsible for mistakes, mismanagement of previous masters and that they are victims to existing laws and state regulations.

The record of the year 2006 shows that violations against freedom of expression have increased by almost 100% in the year 2005/2006. Egyptian press has been exposed to a wide range of violations, where most of these violations were committed within laws that would directly affect human rights and media freedom. As bad laws and regulations control the Egyptian media, the reform of media laws is high on the agenda. The Egyptian Journalists Syndicate and independent advocates of freedom of expression have lost a great battle during the debate about the new law regulating “publishing crimes”. The law carries more restrictions than before in cases of publishing offences.

To read the full report, go to: