The Freedoms Committee of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate has condemned the government’s intention to amend an article in the penal code that allows imprisonment for a period of no less than a year and a fine of not less than 100,000 Egyptian pounds and not more than 200,000 (the dollar is about 16 pounds) or one of these two penalties, in the case of filming or broadcasting the sessions Held by the courts.
A statement by the Freedoms Committee said that what the cabinet spokesman announced on Saturday was “shocking and incomprehensible, and represents a new blockade on the press and its freedom, and puts more restrictions on the journalistic work that has already been besieged for several years.”
“It is never possible, in any context, to understand that the penalty for publishing a press photo is one-year imprisonment or a fine of not less than 100,000 pounds,” the statement added.
And he considered that this expected amendment in the Penal Code represents an “explicit constitutional violation,” as the constitution abolished the imprisonment penalty in publishing cases with the exception of 3 cases in which the penalty of imprisonment was permitted, and it was mentioned in the constitution exclusively, which is “incitement to violence, discrimination between Egyptians, or appeals.” In symptoms. “
According to the statement, this means that this amendment, which the government intends to introduce, represents a clear violation of the freedom of journalistic work, in addition to being a clear constitutional violation.
The statement called for “an immediate reversal of this disastrous amendment, and commitment to the provisions of the constitution that guarantee freedom of the press and abolish imprisonment in publishing cases.”
In turn, the Photographers Division of the Syndicate of Journalists expressed its great shock at the amendment of the law and the criminalization of photography. The division’s statement said that this statement was “incomprehensible and unacceptable,” and represented a shock to the press community and among photographers in particular, with the harsh punishment it carried.
The statement added, “The law permits filming and journalistic work without restrictions except with regard to places and facilities that require a special permit before filming, and therefore it is never acceptable for a press photo to lead to imprisonment for a year or a fine.”
The statement emphasized that the new amendment constitutes another blockade on the work of photojournalists, and this comes after the restrictions imposed by the so-called “press coverage permit”, a statement that made it difficult for photographers to work, and made them vulnerable to targeting and imprisonment despite the provisions of the constitution that guarantee freedom of photography and freedom of writing.
The Press Photographers Division joined the Freedoms Committee of the Syndicate in demanding the government to immediately reverse this amendment, which exposes journalists and photographers to frightening and illogical penalties, which will lead to a decline in the role of the press, and the press image in particular, in providing facts and correct information to citizens.
Journalists demanded the necessity to communicate with the Council of Ministers to clarify the matter in more detail, instead of making the matter easy by issuing a statement, and then joining forces through the Syndicate of Journalists to meet with the Prime Minister and those responsible for this legislative amendment and discuss the matter with them.
The former head of the Journalists Syndicate, Yahya Qalash, commented on the government’s approach by saying that it is a disaster that undermines the spirit of justice, which considers publicity one of its pillars because it perpetuates people’s confidence in the judiciary, as well as strikes freedom of publication and the citizen’s inherent right to know, and contradicts the articles of the Egyptian constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights And the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
On his personal Facebook page, Qalash demanded “all the forces and parties concerned with confronting this disaster, which the occupation could not impose on the Egyptians, their press, or their judiciary.”
In this context, the International Skyline Foundation said –Based in Stockholm-E.Because this approach contradicts the articles of the Egyptian constitution, which allows freedom of journalistic work without restrictions, except with regard to places and establishments that require a special permit, and it is never acceptable for a photojournalist to lead to imprisonment for a year or a fine.
The Foundation pointed out in a statement yesterday, Sunday, that about 29 journalists are in Egyptian prisons, according to Reporters Without Borders, while the number rises to nearly 80 journalists and media figures, according to local human rights estimates, which count all workers in the field of press and media, both trade unionists and non-unionists.
The human rights organization called for international pressure on the Egyptian authorities to stop the practices of suppressing public freedoms and restricting freedom of opinion and expression, and the necessity to oblige Cairo to respect international human rights charters that prohibit restricting public freedoms and freedom of media work.
Article 65 of the Egyptian Constitution states that freedom of thought and opinion is guaranteed, and both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provide for freedom of expression, in addition to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which affirms – in Article (24) – the right itself.