10 February 2013

Egypt: Blocking Youtube Indicates Crisis of Public Freedoms in Egypt

press release

On February 9, 2013, the Egyptian Administrative Court decided blocking YouTube website and all the internet links lead to Prophet Mohamed insulting video for a month. The Egyptian prime minister and the head of the National Telecommunication Regulatory are assigned to take the required measures for activation of the court decision. The court verdict mentioned that YouTube continued making the video accessible, which is against morals and public religious values. The video does not under the umbrella of freedom of expression; it endangers the national security and the public interests, the verdict added.

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) stated that blocking YouTube depriving the Egyptians of their right to access to information, which represents collective punishment of the Egyptians and isolation from the outside world. the goal of this block is covering political crimes committed against the nation, while EOHR stresses that such decisions, elevated to the rank of judicial decisions are violations of the international standards on freely exchanging information, especially the article (19) of the International Covenant on civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right of everyone to freedom of expression including the freedom to seek various forms of information and ideas, receiving and transferring to others without regard to borders, whether in writing or in print, arts, or through any other kinds of media of his choice.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, stressed on his full respect to the juridical verdicts, but this certain verdict deprives millions of the Egyptians of their right to access to information. YouTube complete technical blocking is impossible; most of YouTube fans have got applications enable them to break the block, he added. He also added that the international human rights mechanism will consider the court verdict as a brutal authoritarian decision. The decision is a negative message to the international investors too. It indicates that Egypt suffers problems regarding the public and private freedoms and blocking YouTube is an obvious example.

EOHR calls upon the egyptian government to fill the gaps in the legislative structures that opens the door to using "Hesba Laws" against the Egyptian citizens. EOHR also calls for drafting a new law on freedom of access to public information guarantees the right of every citizen to information, which is one of the fundamental human rights.

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