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Egypt ends jail term for insulting president but further reform needed

Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, passed a decree which ended prison sentences of up to three years for “insulting the president”
Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, passed a decree which ended prison sentences of up to three years for “insulting the president”

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

ARTICLE 19 welcomes a new presidential decree that ends prison time for insulting the president, but is concerned about the increased fines, which contradict international standards.

"Monday's presidential decree to remove the punishment of prison time for insulting the president is a positive step for Egypt, but for freedom of expression to be fully enjoyed by Egyptians in general and the press in particular, a full review of all laws and regulations should be undertaken as soon as possible by the relevant authorities,” said Dr Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.

The Egyptian Interim President, Adly Mansour, passed a decree on 5 August 2013 which ended prison sentences of up to three years for “insulting the president” but defined a minimum fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,430) up to a maximum of 30,000 (US$4,300).

“We welcome the removal of prison sentences for insulting the president but are concerned that this reform does not go far enough to bring Egyptian legislation into compliance with international standards, which stipulate that under no circumstances should defamation laws provide any special protection for public officials, whatsoever their rank or status, including the president. It is now well established in international law that such officials should tolerate more, rather than less criticism,” Callamard added.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Egyptian interim government to amend or repeal all laws and regulations, including the Penal Code and the Press Law, which put limitations on the right to freedom of expression, especially those provisions that penalise criticism of public officials.

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