The Administrative Court postponed Tuesday the ruling on a lawsuit, filed by the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), to broadcast parliamentary sessions to 5 March, according to an AFTE press release.
MP Haitham El-Hariri announced his support of the AFTE lawsuit and demanded that the parliament broadcast its sessions and launch a website to publish news and updates following each session in a timely fashion so that these sessions can be archived accurately, according to AFTE.
In December 2015, AFTE filed a lawsuit against the president, the minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and the head of the parliament, calling them to broadcast the parliament’s general sessions and to create a website to publish and archive all sessions’ content.
Following the postponement of the lawsuit, the association responded with the, now trending, hash tag #Return_Broadcast as well as criticising and to calling on the parliament to broadcast the sessions to its citizens, which will promote trust between MPs and the general population.
In online posts, AFTE referred to the constitution to condemn the parliament saying ” the parliament is assigned to address and discuss the people’s issues with the government, so how can MPs perform their jobs well without broadcasting the sessions”.
The association also questioned the parliament’s motives behind its insistence that the sessions not be broadcast, speculating that the parliament is hiding something from the people it should serve.
Lawyer at AFTE Hassan Al-Azhary, a told Daily News Egypt previously in a phone interview that restricting sessions from broadcast contradicts constitutional stipulations for parliamentary work, as stated in Article 101.
The constitution underlines that all citizens have the right to know what is happening during legislative and administrative sessions, while it is happening, and these statements reveal that the parliament’s administration is not aware of the constitutional provisions, he continued.
AFTE stated in its lawsuit that broadcasting the sessions will raise legal awareness, ensure compliance with laws, allow stakeholders to respond and comment to parliamentary discussions, prevent rumours about parliament sessions, and most importantly allow citizens to hear the MPs’ discussions regarding their affairs in their country.
On 11 January, secretary general for the parliament Ahmed Saad El-Din decided to ban live television broadcast of the sessions on “Sout Al-Shaab” the People’s Voice TV Channel, which is appointed for the broadcast of sessions, as well as on any other media platform, which outraged social media users and political activists, and some public figures.
According to Saad El-Din, the ban remains until parliament finish reviewing all presidential decrees and governmental regulations. This was according to Article 156 in the constitution which stipulates that parliament discuss and decide on them within 15 days of the first session.
The ban came following a petition by MP Hossam Rafae. However, the secretary general announced that the sessions will continue to be recorded but only selected parts will be broadcast to the public, adding that the decision is temporary and does not contradict the constitution.