Cairo: 29 March 2009

Press release
Messengers of Freedom
Quarter report on the situation of journalism in Egypt

On Sunday, 29th March 2009, Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue (FDHRD) has issued its quarter report on the situation of the freedom of journalism in Egypt. This report is issued under the framework of “Messengers of Freedom” and is done under the program “The observer of the Freedom of opinion and expression”.

FDHRD has issued annual reports on the situation of journalism in Egypt during the years of 2005 and 2006. However, this report has not been issued during the years of 2007 and 2008 because the program of “The observer of the Freedom of opinion and expression” stopped its activities. In 2009, FDHRD has resumed again the motivations of the activities of the program and it is expected that the program will issue four quarter reports on the situation of journalism in Egypt.

In this regard, “The observer of the Freedom of opinion and expression” issued its first quarter report of 2009 which contains 35 pages . This report monitors and documents the violations and incidents related the freedom of journalism during the period from 1 January 2009 till 29 March 2009.

The editor of the report, Mr. Said Abdel Hafez, declared that there were general remarks on the situation of journalism in Egypt which are:

- During the first quarter of 2009, there were twenty judicial suits issued against 13 newspapers:

The report monitored that there were 28 judicial lawsuits issued against 13 Egyptian newspapers. Eight of these lawsuits were acquittal sentences while two of them were imprisonment sentences and 4 cases were fines. In this regard, the newspapers of Ros El Yousef and El Fagr received a lot of judicial judgments during the monitoring period as each one of them received two judgments. Then, El Masry El Youm “Egyptian Today newspaper”, Sout of El Omah “Voice of Nation” , El Ahrar, El Dostor “ The Constitution”, El Wafd, El Mogez and El Krama come on the second top as each one of them received one judgment. In addition, there are still 20 cases under hearings in the Egyptian courts. In this regard, EL Mogaz newspaper is on the first top in relations to having cases that are under hearings as it has 4 cases filed against it in the courts now. Then, El Fagr has three cases against it while the Egyptian Today, El Gomhoreya, Sout El Omah and Ros El Yousef have two cases against them in the courts while El Badeel , El Midan and El Tareek have one case against each one of them in the courts now.

- The cases filed by newspapers against each other had dangerous influence on journalism in Egypt.

The report monitored that there are cases filed by newspapers against each other. The percentage of libeling and slandering lawsuits filed by newspapers against each other is 26% while the percentage of cases filed by parties and members of the parliament is 26% and the percentage of cases filed by public figures is 26%

- El Fagr and El Mogaz are the most newspapers that are requested to attend before courts:

El Fagr and Mogaz newspapers are requested to attend before courts as 16% of the cases monitored during the reporting period were against El Fagr and Mogaz newspapers while 13% of the cases field against Ros El Yousef and 10% of the cases were filed against the Egyptian Today Newspaper.

- Mr. Mostafa Bakry is one of the journalists and parliament members who filed libeling and slandering cases against newspapers.

Mr. Mostafa Bakry is one of the journalists and parliament members who filed libeling and slandering cases against newspapers. In this regard, Mr. Bakry filed 83% of the cases filed by journalists against newspapers while he filed 31% of the cases of libeling and slandering cases. In addition, Ahmed Ezz filed 15% of the cases.

- Private newspapers are the most newspapers that were judicially followed up:

The report monitored that private newspapers are the most newspapers that were judicially followed up in relations to publications cases. The report monitored that publications cases were filed against eight private newspapers while publications’ cases were filed against three parties’ newspapers. In addition, publications’ cases were filed against two national newspapers only. <

- Daily newspapers are the most newspapers that were judicially followed up:

/u> The report monitored that daily newspapers are the most newspapers that were judicially followed up as they come at the first top ( 54% of the cases were filed against daily newspapers) while weekly newspapers comes at the second top (46% of the cases were filed against daily newspapers).

- The sum of 220 thousand Egyptian pounds is the total sum of fines issued against newspapers while 29% of the judgments were imprisonment judgments:

Although there is improvement in decreasing the number of imprisonment sentences and fines’ sentences against newspapers, there is still issuance of such sentences. 29% of the judgments were imprisonments sentences while 57% of the judgments were fines, and 14% were acquittal judgments. It is also observed that the fine sentences are harsh as the sum of 220 thousand Egyptian pounds is the total sum of fines issued against newspapers

- El Gomhoreya and El Mogaz newspapers are the most Egyptian newspapers that received fines’ judgments:

El Gomhoreya newspaper is the most Egyptian newspapers that received fines’ judgments as it had to pay 50 thousand pounds and then El Mogaz newspapers comes at the second top as it had to pay 40000 Egyptian pounds and then comes El Masry El Youm newspaper.

- Yasser Barakat is the most Egyptian journalists who was followed up before courts:

Yasser Barakat is the most Egyptian journalists who was followed up before courts as he was summoned five times to attend before courts while Adel Hamouda , the editor-in-chief of El Fagr and Ali Ibrahim , the editor-in-chief of El Gomhoreya come at the second top as they were summoned three times. The report has monitored that 57 journalists were requested to attend before courts as they were accused in 28 judicial cases that were filed during the period from 1 January 2009 and 31 March 2009.

The report monitored that there are cases filed by newspapers against each other. The percentage of libeling and slandering lawsuits filed by newspapers against each other is 26% while the percentage of cases filed by parties and members of the parliament is 26% while the percentage of cases filed by public figures is 26%. It is observed that Egyptian citizens are more forgiving and withdrew their criminal and civil cases they filed against journalists

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