CAIRO – 14June 2018: The newly-approved draft law which aimed to regulate the National Press Authority (NPA) and the National Media Authority (NMA), caused a state of controversy among journalists and raised several questions on whether it will preserve their rights or impose more restrains over media in Egypt.
The new law which consists of seven sections specifies the administrative construction of newspapers' high board, owners and defines exactly what it means to be a journalist. According to the new law, a journalist is “anyone listed as a member of Journalists Syndicate”. The new law also lists the National Media Authority and the National Press Authority rights to interfere, manage and direct all of the Egyptian media outlets.
Several concerns were raised by a number of the Journalists Syndicate members regarding the new law. A debate was launched on the ground and on social media between supporters and opponents of the new law.
In the opposing statement which is signed by 210 journalists until now, the Journalists Syndicate members listed several points referring to the new law as “standing against the freedom of media and journalists.”
However, other officials described the new law as "balanced". Head of Parliament’s Media, Culture and Antiquities Committee, Osama Heikal, said in statements to media outlets on Sunday that the new law sets a number of the needed principles to regulate media work inside the country, adding that the law is balanced and protects journalists and their rights.
Some administrative regulations were among the criticized points in the new law, including: reducing the representation of journalists in the board of directors to the minimum and appointing half of the board members from outside the media institution, as well as allowing the National Press Authority to directly manage the newspapers board of directors and public associations.
“The new law doesn’t allow the newspapers' board to make any important decisions without getting the authority's permission,” the statement read.
According to the statement, the new law also stipulates that the journalists have the right to reach for all the information they need; however, the law didn’t impose any punishment on anyone who hinders their access to information. The statement signers also criticized the National Media Authority's capability to impose sanctions over journalists and the Journalists Syndicate.
Moreover, the media draft law included several terms and words which could be described as elastic and incomprehensible, according to the statement, such as “spreading hatred, incitement, threat of democracy", and many others. Several other notes were listed in the statement, commenting on some of the privileges granted to journalists by the draft law, including criminalizing any attack on journalists while on duty.
Article 100 of the new law states that: “Any person who transgresses a journalist during or because of his work shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine of not less than LE 10,000 and not more than LE 20,000 or one of these penalties.”
During the Parliament's plenary session on Sunday, MP Heikal, said that the draft law covers all aspects of media and press activities in Egypt, and does not include any articles that could send journalists to jail in publication offences.
Additionally, the opposing statement pointed out that the new drafted law approved by the Parliament on Monday was not presented to the Journalists Syndicate in the first place, which severely opposes article 77 of the constitution which demands presenting all of the new proposed laws to its affiliated syndicates.
The opponents confirmed in their statement that the new law aims to restrain press freedom and works to deny any opposing or different voice. They also claimed that the new law aims to destroy national newspapers and marginalize journalists and impose guardianship over them, which is completely contrary to what is confirmed by the new law supporters.
On Monday, the Parliament approved the two government-drafted laws aimed to regulate the National Press Authority (NPA) and the National Media Authority (NMA).
The two draft laws are among the three draft laws submitted by the Cabinet to regulate Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation (HCMR), the National Media Authority (NPA), and the National Press Authority (NMA).
The Parliament discusses a separate law for each of HCMR, NPA and NMA, instead of one law regulating the three bodies.
Egyptian Parliament speaker, Ali Abdel Aal, said the laws were drafted three years ago by a committee formed of experts from the government and the Press Syndicate, but a lot of debate raised in media and press circles surrounding the draft laws.
Parliament issued Institutional Regulation of the Press and Media law in December 2016, which establishes and regulates the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, the National Press Authority and the National Media Authority's activities.
However, due to the gap that emerged as a result of the rapid progress of technological development in the media, press and social media, the Joint Committee has separated each body and drafted an independent law for each of them.
Hence, three new laws will automatically lead to the elimination of the Institutional Regulation of the Press and Media law.
Additional reporting By Marina Gamil
CAIRO - 12 June 2018: The Parliament approved on Monday the two government-drafted laws aimed to regulate the National Press Authority (NPA) and the National Media Authority (NMA). The two draft laws are among the three draft laws submitted by the Cabinet to regulate Egypt's Supreme Council for Media Regulation(HCMR), the National Media Authority(NPA), and the National Press Authority(NMA).