FILE – House of Representatives
CAIRO – 9 November 2017: The National Media Council will present the first Freedom of Information Law to journalists and media persons for discussion starting next week, the chairman of the council Hatem Zakaria stated.
Zakaria said in a statement that a copy of the draft law was sent to some concerned parties, including members of the Journalists Syndicate Council, to review and remark on.
The draft law would be sent to the House of Representatives following the conclusion of the community dialogue, he added.
Earlier, the Supreme Media Regulatory Council, chaired by Makram Mohamed Ahmed approved the first Freedom of Information draft law.
Ahmed called on the council to conduct a community dialogue with journalists, media professionals and the National Council for Human Rights to discuss the final draft law before referring it to the House of Representatives.
The draft law, which the parliament is considering, was originally written under Article 68 of the new Egyptian Constitution and based on the First Information Law issued in 1946 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Constitutional Article 68 stipulates 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.”
The deputy of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, Abdul Fattah Al-Jabaly, told Egypt Today that, under the penalties clause in the draft law, a penalty will be imposed on the employee who refrains from giving information to citizens and will be subject to a fine of LE 5,000 to 20,000 — even imprisonment in the case of preventing information in the commission of a crime.
This law guarantees that anyone has the right to receive information in a simplified way and, in the case of obtaining statistics or data, has the right to obtain them for free as well. However, in the case of economic reports or files, the cost will be determined by the competent authority, Al-Jabaly added.
There has been no law that regulates the freedom of information since the constitution was drafted in 2014. However, other concerned bodies, such as the Ministry of Justice and civil society, had drafted other bills concerning the freedom of information.
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