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Fifty-five IFEX members and six other organisations urge authorities to respect and protect freedom of expression and the right to information

Photo: Sarah Carr

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 3 February 2011 - Civil society organisations from around the world are calling on Egyptian and international bodies to respect freedom of expression and the right to information.

We, the undersigned civil society organisations working to promote freedom of expression around the world, condemn the serious violations of human rights taking place at this critical moment in Egypt. Since pro-democracy activists first began popular protest across Egypt on 25 January, there have been at least three hundred deaths, incidents of physical attacks and brutality, often involving live fire, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of protestors and journalists. The government has also restricted access to the internet, withdrawn mobile phone services and placed restrictions on independent media.

These measures have had the effect of silencing and suppressing the speech of legitimate protestors and presented significant obstacles to many others, both inside and outside the country, who wish to access or share information about the demonstrations and the human rights abuses that have occurred during this period. Egypt's total censorship of the internet and mobile communications also stands to encourage other governments in the region and beyond to take similar action.

In our opinion, the Egyptian authorities are in violation of the state's international human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with respect to the right to freedom of expression and the right to information as well as the right to freedom of assembly and association, the right to liberty, the right to life and the right not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

As massive rallies take place across Egypt, we call upon the Egyptian state authorities, including the national government, police, security and armed forces to:

• Remove any remaining limitations on access to the internet and mobile communications and refrain from imposing any such restrictions;
• Remove all restrictions on independent media and release all journalists and lawful protestors who have been detained;
• Respect Egypt's international legal obligations in policing the protests and only use force that is reasonable, proportionate and genuinely aimed at preventing crimes;
• Ensure that there are independent and effective investigations into allegations of killings, attacks or threats by state agents;
• Immediately repeal state emergency laws.

We further call upon influential states, intergovernmental and regional organisations, including the United Nations, African Union and the European Union to:

• Condemn all violations of human rights by Egyptian state authorities during this period of popular unrest in Egypt;
• Exert pressure on Egypt to remove any remaining limitations on access to the internet and mobile communications and refrain from imposing any such restrictions;
• Exert pressure on the Egyptian state authorities to respect human rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression and the right to information;
• Support a smooth transition in Egypt to a system that embraces democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

We will continue to closely monitor the events in Egypt as they unfold.

Signed,

ARTICLE 19
Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Arab Archives Institute
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Association of Independent Electronic Media
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
Centre for Independent Journalism - Malaysia
Ethiopian Freepress Journalists' Association
Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP
Freedom Forum
Freedom House
Free Media Movement
Fundamedios - Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Globe International Center
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda
Independent Journalism Center - Moldova
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey
Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
Institute of Mass Information
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela
International Federation of Journalists
International Press Institute
International Publishers Association
Maharat Foundation
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Mizzima News
National Press Association
National Union of Somali Journalists
Norwegian PEN
Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión - OLA
Pacific Freedom Forum
Pacific Islands News Association
Pakistan Press Foundation
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms - MADA
PEN Canada
PEN International
Privacy International
Public Association "Journalists"
Reporters Without Borders
SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom (Samir Kassir Eyes) - INTERIM MEMBER
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
Thai Journalists Association
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters - AMARC

NON-IFEX MEMBER SIGNATORIES:

Centre for Law and Democracy
Democracy Coalition Project (DCP)
freeDimensional and the Creative Resistance Fund
Fojo Media Institute
International Media Support (IMS)
Press Now / Free Voice

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying

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