The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) documented 116 cases of violations against journalists in the first four months of 2015, according to a Sunday press release.
The statement was released to mark the 17th World Press Freedom Day on Sunday.
Documented violations occurred mostly in Cairo, and included physical assault, detention, imprisonment, physical injury and preventing journalists from performing their duty. The violations were carried out mostly by some members of the security apparatus, as well as government officials and civilians.
Describing the current period as one that presents unprecedented challenges to journalists in Egypt, AFTE criticised the targeting and detention of journalists and the restrictions placed on the press by security forces and judicial authorities.
AFTE concluded its statement by demanding the release of journalists detained on criminal charges, and opening an urgent and transparent investigation into the murder of journalists Mayada Ashraf, Musaab Al-Shamy and Al-Husseiny Abu Deif. AFTE also called for a reassessment of legislation that deals with media and press freedoms.
The statement further points out the continuously increasing durations of pre-trial detention given to journalists pending trial for criminal charges.
World Press Freedom Day also marks the 627th day spent in prison for photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zied, also known as Shawkan, who remains under prolonged pre-trial detention.
In his latest letter on 23 April, Shawkan wrote: “Press freedom is a distant dream, having spent more than 600 days in prison…only because I was doing my job as a photojournalist during the dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in.”
Similarly, journalist Ahmed Gamal Ziada had spent 480 days in prison, before being acquitted last Wednesday of all charges against him. Charges included engaging in violent protests and setting fire to Al-Azhar University’s Faculty of Commerce in December 2013.
In the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index released this week, the group said “the curbs on freedom of information are as worrying as ever” in Egypt. It placed the country at 159 out of 180 countries measured by free press. The group levels that Al-Sisi’s regime is cracking down on media and dissenting opinion in the name of a war on terrorism.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked Egypt third among the most dangerous countries for journalists in 2013 and Reporters Without Borders named it one of the five worst countries for jailing journalists in 2014.