On World Press Freedom Day, Egyptian journalists strike against increasing violations

Daily News Egypt
3 Min Read

The Press Syndicate Council announced the commencement of an indefinite strike in the early hours of Monday morning, following security forces’ storming of the syndicate’s headquarters on Sunday night.

Tuesday’s World Press Freedom Day arrives in Egypt amid increasing press violations, including a series of arrests, threats, confiscations, and injunctions. Journalists have been banned from covering certain issues, subjected to censorship, and physically assaulted. There have been several incidents of security forces raiding newsrooms.

The Journalists Against Torture Observatory (JATO) documented a 77% increase in the number of violations during the first quarter of 2016 compared with the number of violations during the first quarter of 2015.

Banned coverage was the most significant violation practiced against journalists in 2015 and 2016. The JATO has documented114 cases of violations in the first quarter of 2016 compared to 56 in the corresponding period of 2015.

Since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, journalists have faced an increase in threats while reporting in the field, particularly when covering protests.

According to the Arab Network for Human Rights and Information (ANHRI), at least 57 journalists have been placed behind bars since August 2013. In a report issued in late February, the Press Syndicate estimates 42 journalists are currently either in detention or at risk of being detained.

During anti-government protests on 25 April prompted by the sovereign transfer of Tiran and Sanafir islands to the Saudi Arabia, 33 journalists were arrested.

The announcement of the transfer of the islands during King Salman Abdul Aziz Al-Saud’s visit to Cairo in early April sparked nationwide controversy. Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper’s 12 April issue was retracted and amended as it criticised the king’s visit and Sanafir and Tiran’s transfer.

In a similar incident, Al-Watan newspaper’s special edition, printed on the newspaper’s anniversary in May 2015, was confiscated for publishing the front-page headline, “7 entities more powerful than Al-Sisi”.

Violations have also taken a toll on freelance reporters. Three reporters were arrested for filming a report without permission in a Dokki appartment in early April.

Security forces have also arrested several journalists from their homes and their work places. Earlier in February, police arrested Sabry Anwar, who works for the independent newspaper El-Badil, from his home in Damietta, according to his wife and lawyer.

In late June 2015, Al-Masriya photojournalist Wagdy Ghaly was arrested during the funeral of former prosecutor general Hisham Barakat while taking photographs outside the Omar Makram Mosque in downtown Cairo.

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