11 February 2013

Egypt: ANHRI Calls to Halt All the Prosecutions Against Media-Professionals of Maspiro Due to Their Call for Reforming the State Owned Media

press release

Cairo — The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) today denounces the subpoena of 8 of the media-professionals who work in the TV and Broadcast Union owned by the state. They were subpoenaed by the public prosecution to be investigated regarding the report filed by the legal administration of the union since a year in relation with a march in which more than 150 of their colleagues to call for different reforms in the state owned media.

The facts of the mentioned report back to February 13, 2012 when some of the staff of Maspiro organized a protest inside the building calling to meet General Ahmed Anis, the minister of information at this time in order to submit a group of demands; most of these demands are related to wage structure. Therefore, the legal affairs administration subpoenaed 8 of them to conduct internal investigation, then it notified them that they have filed a report no. 397 of 2012 administrative, Boulq prosecution, in which they were charged of assembling, disturbing the work and trespassing public properties.

As a result of the different practices from the civil society at this time, the internal investigation didn't conducted with the 8 media-professionals, then they were notified that the report filed against the public prosecution was withdrawn. In addition to they have partially responded to some of their calls through issuing a new wage relegation.

They are:

  1. Ali Abu Hmalh / Director General of the Nile Channel
  2. Khaled El-Ashry / TV Director in channel III
  3. Somaia Shinawi / Senior correspondents in News
  4. Heba Ezz El-Arab / Anchor channel III
  5. Tamer Jalhoum / TV Director channel III
  6. Abdul Latif Abu Hmalh / Director channel III
  7. Essam Al-Saeed / Senior TV program editor
  8. Madiaha El-Doski/ Director General of the News Sector

After a year they were surprised when they received, on Thursday February 7, 2013, subpoena from Boulaq Abu-Elah public prosecution through the legal affairs in the union to appear before the attorney general to investigate them in the same report!

ANHRI said that "the original report, in addition to it demonstrates clear selectivity to those who are charges, as the protest was attended by a large number of their colleagues in addition to them, the re-opening of the investigation after this long time and despite the manifestation of the settlement of the problem by not conducting an internal investigation, in addition to respond to some of the demands; all of these suggest the continuation of the selective targeting to those in which the report filed against them. Especially, as they are known for their persistent calling for reforming the organization of the state owned media, which did not achieve, despite the succession of more than one minister. Despite also the first elected president and the minister of information who are affiliated to the ruling regime".

ANHRI added that "the reopening of this report after this long time, arouses a lot of legitimate questions related to the attempt of the current regime to use the same tools of the military during the transition to harass the opposition and who call for reforms and the representatives of this regime use files that should have settled. We can't review the fact away from the restrictions observed during the last six months which were placed on the staff of the state-owned media in order to use them as voice of the new regime and to ignore all the demands of the media-staff, rights' organizations and others of the necessity to free people's owned media from the control of the executive authorities in addition to guarantee its independence to express all the national views of the citizens from different orientations. Moreover, to direct its work only in the favor of the national interest and the professional rule that to be decided by the media groups".

ANHRI calls on the attorney general to close the investigations in the report submitted against the media-professionals. It also call the relevant authorities to stop all types of power abuse in relation with harassing the opposition or who call for reforms in addition to harass them to achieve narrow political purposes to a group or a party. ANHRI renewed its demand of restructuring the state-owned media through the abolishment the ministry of information which was inherited from the era of totalitarianism and dictatorship and through providing the full guarantees to the independence of the state-owned media from the authority.

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