FILE - Head of the Supreme Media Council Makram Mohamed Ahmed FILE - Head of the Supreme Media Council Makram Mohamed Ahmed

SCMR urges government to approve Freedom of Information Law

Thu, Jul. 26, 2018
CAIRO – 26 July 2018: Head of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR), Makram Mohammed Ahmed, asserted on Wednesday that the Freedom of Information Law should see the light to protect journalists' right to reach information, calling on the government to approve it immediately.

In an interview with Osama Kamal on privately owned TV channel DMC, Ahmed said that the council will renew its demand for a law that assures journalists’ right to have access to information from official sources, adding that such law is a must as long as journalists are held accountable for what is published.

Parliament had earlier discussed the law in 2017; it was originally written under Article 68 of the new Egyptian constitution based on the First Information Law issued by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1946.

Constitutional Article 68 dictates that “information, data, statistics, and official documents are the property of the people and the disclosure thereof from their various sources is a right guaranteed by the state for all citizens. The state is committed to provide and make them available to citizens in a transparent manner. The law shall also impose penalties for withholding information or deliberately providing wrong information.”

When asked about the article of the newly issued media law that refers to the integration of a number of press organizations, Ahmed said that the government will not continue funding and supporting printed newspapers and that some newspapers’ distribution comes to only 70 copies.

It is necessary to focus on electronic journalism because our economic resources are currently limited; any press institution in Egypt should work to cover their expenses entirely, he said.

On Saturday, July 7, Attorney General Nabil Sadiq summoned Ahmed to investigate imposing a media gag on reports related to the 57375 Children Cancer Hospital. According to the General Prosecution’s statement, any decision for publication prevention should be based on Article 26 of the law on the media institutional organizations, without violating the powers of the Public Prosecution.

The attorney-general addressed Ahmed in stating that the law authorizes the SCMR to guarantee and protect freedom of the press and the citizens’ right to enjoy free and fair press within the framework of professional practices.

Following the interrogation session, Ahmed asserted to Egypt Today that he was sure of his decision's correctness, pointing out that the interrogation session took only 10 minutes during which the whole issue was settled.

Moreover, Abu Zeid affirmed that the Security Prosecution has not filed any complaints against Ahmed, adding that Ahmed had explained the reasons behind making this decision and asserted that if he knew that this decision conflicts with the authorities of the State Security Prosecution, he would never issue it.
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