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CAMPAIGN AIMS TO DECRIMINALISE DEFAMATION LAWS

In Egypt, a coalition of editors, professors, human rights activists and union leaders have announced plans to launch a national campaign aimed at abolishing jail sentences for press offences, reports the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR).

The campaign will focus on pressuring the government to deliver on its promise of decriminalising defamation. It will also seek to strengthen constitutional rights to freedom of expression and to repeal the 25-year old Emergency Law, which gives authorities wide powers to shut down media outlets in the name of national security.

The participants in the campaign recently met at a seminar organised by EOHR, which examined a draft proposal by the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate to decriminalise the country's defamation laws.

For the past two years, President Hosni Mubarak has been promising to abolish jail sentences for press offenses but so far, no action has been taken. Many IFEX members have been calling on the president to follow through on his commitment. In February, 26 members issued a joint statement at the IFEX General Meeting in Brussels, expressing serious concern over the delay.

Visit these links:
- EOHR: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/73172/
- IFEX Joint Action on Egypt's Criminal Defamation Laws:
http://www.ifex.org/eng/content/view/full/72553/
- CPJ Report on Egypt: http://www.cpj.org/attacks05/mideast05/egypt_05.html
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=13304

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