The following report monitors the status of the press and media in Egypt, and analyzes the developments in the Egyptian media sector during November and December 2016.
The report is issued by the ‘al Sawt al Hurr, the Arab Network for Media Support’ and is one of a series of reports issued by the network to provide media personnel, researchers and journalists interested in media with a comprehensive monitor and analysis highlighting these developments.
1. Developments in the Media Sector in General
– On December 26th, President Abdul Fattah al Sisi ratified the Act on the re-organization of the press and the media, after approval from the House of Representatives. The law contains 89 articles relating to mandate and composition of each of three new bodies: the “Supreme Council for the Organization of the Media”; the highest authority managing media and press affairs; the “National Commission for Media”, which will replace the state owned Egyptian Radio and Television Union ERTU), and the “National Commission for the Press”, which will replace the Supreme Press Council. (see also section 8 of this report)
– On November 19th, the Qasr al Nil Misdemeanors Court sentenced chairman Yahia Qalash, secretary general Jamal Abdul Rahim, and undersecretary Khaled al Balshy of the Journalists’ Syndicate to two years’ imprisonment with labor and an EGP 10,000 bail per defendant for harboring fugitives at the premises of the syndicate. The police had entered the syndicate’s headquarters to arrest journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud al Saqqa, after issuing a warrant for their arrest. The Central Cairo Prosecution has initiated criminal investigations into the three board members. The sentence is not final and could be appealed.
– On November 29th, the House of Representatives approved a draft version of a new law on civil associations, after considering the notes of the legislation department of the State Council. This draft law was criticized by many Egyptian organizations, and by ‘Human Rights Watch’ which concluded that the law effectively prohibits an independent civil society and the functioning of non-governmental organizations, after placing their work and financing under the control of the government and the security forces.
– On December 3rd, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled parts of the 2013 demonstration law unconstitutional. In its judgement, the court seems to confine the Ministry of Interior’s authority to approve demonstrations to the right to be notified of such plans. In that case, all the administration can do is to verify if the notification is timely delivered and includes all information specified in the law. However other parts of the law were upheld. (see section 8)
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