The International Federation of Journalists today backed calls from journalists in Egypt who are challenging the government of President Mubarak to deliver on a promise he made two years ago to decriminalise the work of journalists.
In a letter to the President and other leading officials, the IFJ says that laws which allow the jailing of journalists for exercising their professional rights are “a stain on the fabric of freedom” which should be removed immediately.
“We are concerned that three years after a solemn promise was made there is still no action by the government to remove legal obstacles to the exercise of free journalism,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The entire community of journalists and free speech defenders in Egypt are saying that further delays are intolerable. Threats of imprisonment for journalists doing their job should be removed immediately.”
The IFJ is supporting the Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate which today – the second anniversary of the government’s promise to remove the offensive legislation – has reiterated its determination to press for a law that bans jail sentencing for journalists.
This decision comes after a meeting, chaired by EJS president Galal Aref, unanimously supported a draft a new law prepared by legal experts and supported by the syndicate, which has run into bureaucratic and political opposition within government circles.
“Our colleagues in Cairo are rightly concerned at statements by the Prime Minister which undermine attempts to put right the injustice of supporters of independent journalism and free speech facing jail,” said White. “The time has come to end all prevarication and delay and to remove immediately this stain on the fabric of freedom in Egypt.”
The IFJ says that journalists all around the world support the struggle of Egyptian journalists to defend journalists’ rights. “The government’s failure to deliver on its promise is bad news for journalism and for all citizens,” said White. “That’s why IFJ member unions around the world strongly support this call for the government to end the victimization of journalists.”
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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries
To read the IFJ letter to President Mubarak, click here.
To read the press release issued by the EJS (arabic) click here.