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Two IFEX members urge Press Council not to obstruct licencing, publication of new newspaper

(HRinfo/IFEX) - The following is a joint statement by HRinfo, CIHRS, and several other organisations:

Tyrannical and illegal prevention of issuing an independent newspaper
Human rights organisations call upon Supreme Council of Press not to hinder the issuance of "Al-Badiel" newspaper

Cairo - 4 February 2007 - Egyptian human rights organisations call upon the Supreme Council of Press (SCP) to comply with the law and not to hinder the publication of the newspaper "Al-Badiel", which has met all provisions for release as set by the law. The legal 40-day period for the announcement of any SCP objection has passed with neither a response nor the approval of a licence for the newspaper.

The SCP has adopted an inflexible stance since the first day the newspaper was established. The SCP trustee officials failed to respond to the demands of the newspaper's editors to be notified of current or foreseeable problems in order that they be forewarned against making any mistakes. In addition, the trustee officials wrote a letter after the end of the legally assigned period to request more formal clarification on one of the submitted documents. This reflects in the SCP a desire to waste time and a lack of adherence to legally set timelines.

The undersigned human rights organisations hold the view that the provisions of the SCP violate the right to publish newspapers in Egypt, the stipulations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCP), to which Egypt is a signatory and which subsequently became an integral part of its internal law, and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights. Despite these violations and despite "Al-Badiel" editors' compliance with the provisions of issuance, the SCP failed to license the newspaper. This proves that the SCP is inconsiderate of the law, which is illegal due to the fact that the SCP is seeking to limit the freedom to issue newspapers in Egypt.

The undersigned human rights organisations urge the SCP to comply with the law and issue "Al-Badiel" a licence as a saving grace for itself before the administrative court considers the claim filed by the newspapers' editors on 6 February 2007.

The undersigned urge Arab and international human rights organisations to defend freedom of press by pressuring this council - which stands against freedom of expression and press - to comply with the law and values of press freedom, and not to act as an obstacle in the path of an independent press as it is necessary for ensuring the freedom of the people.

Signatories:

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Association for Human Rights Legal Aid
Habi Center for Environmental Rights
Civil Observatory of Human Rights
El-Ganob Center for Human Rights
One-World Foundation for Development and Civil Society Care
Freedom of Thought and Expression Foundation
Land Center for Human Rights

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information