31 March 2014

Egypt: Female Reporter Shot Dead While Covering Anti-Sisi Protest

press release

Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that Mayada Ashraf, a reporter for the Al-Dostour daily newspaper and the Masr Al-Arabiyya news website, was fatally shot in the head as she was covering clashes between police and protesters in the eastern Cairo district of Ain Shams on 28 March.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters staged the protests in response to the announcement that Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is to be a candidate in next May's presidential election.

Police and demonstrators have blamed each other for Ashraf's death. Four other people were killed in the 28 March clashes between police and demonstrators in Cairo. In her last report from Ain Shams, Ashraf said live rounds were being fired.

"We offer our heartfelt condolences to Ashraf's family and colleagues and we urge the competent authorities to carry out an independent and impartial investigation to ensure that this crime does not go unpunished," said Lucie Morillon, head of research and advocacy at Reporters Without Borders.

Ashraf was killed the same day that the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the importance of the role played by journalists when covering demonstrations and the need for states to give them the required protection.

Journalists have been systematically targeted, especially when covering gatherings or demonstrations, ever since President Mohamed Morsi's ouster on 3 July. At least six journalists were injured and around 15 were detained during demonstrations on 25 January marking the third anniversary of the start of the uprising against the Mubarak regime.

Ashraf is the 11th journalist to be killed in connection with their work since January 2011, and the sixth since 3 July. Egypt is ranked 159th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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