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ANHRI releases annual freedom of expression report

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, May 24, 2009 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information stated today that 2008 witnessed a great expansion in the use of the Emergency Law by Egyptian authorities against a large number of journalists and bloggers, as well as a noticeable increase in physical assaults and abductions committed against them, since authorities refuse to investigate these attacks.

Despite the fact that the Network recorded a decline in the number of cases brought against journalists and bloggers in 2008 compared with 2007, the violations that took place in 2008 were more violent and more severe, as the police have, in many cases, tended to impose extrajudicial punishments on those who hold different opinions, through abduction or physical abuse, and many of these practices occurred outside Cairo.

The annual report also monitored a number of examples of religious and political Hisba lawsuits (cases filed by private parties in the name of protecting state interests), a growing phenomenon in recent years as lawyers and religious men seek to gain fame or flatter the Egyptian government by filing Hisba cases against creative writers and journalists.

The report addresses the government persecution of satellite channels, including the American-owned Al-Hurra, the Iranian-owned Al-Alam, along with companies that provide direct broadcast service to a large number of satellite channels, such as the Cairo News Company.

The report also provides a long list of books and magazines that were confiscated in 2008, and distinguishes between the bodies which confiscate literary works by legal means and bodies that confiscate publications in violation of the law, noting with concern that the latter is the more prominent in the list of confiscated works.

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