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Egypt's judiciary issues gag orders in cases of serious concern to the public

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) recently condemned the systematic methodology used by the Egyptian judiciary and the public prosecution in restricting information regarding several cases considered of concern to the public. ANHRI believes that such restrictions constitute an attack on the right of the Egyptian people to know and to follow up on trials, such actions also raise questions regarding the seriousness with which such trials are handled.

Gag orders were issued in ousted president Mohamed Morsi's trial involving espionage charges, as well as regarding the death of General Nabil Farag during the Kerdasa events, the attack on the Al-Warraq church, and the killing of Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Mabrouk, a national security officer. The orders were issued by Egypt's public prosecutor, Judge Hesham Barakat.

The gag orders essentially ban all the different media outlets from following up on the hearings and publishing their finding for citizens to read. They are part of a series of decisions made to restrict publishing on a number of important issues, as the Egyptian courts had formerly made similar decisions over investigations with the "Judges for Egypt" movement, Morsi's trial, and the trial of toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

"The judicial authority in Egypt uses gag orders to ban spreading information concerning significant cases; justifying its decisions according to the sensitivity of the cases. However, the sensitivity factor is precisely why such cases must be aired live so that the public can witness whether they are being taken seriously, whether they are being politicized and whether the trials breach the law," said ANHRI.

ANHRI emphasizes that the judicial authority should stop implementing publishing bans regarding cases of public concern as they are considered an attack on freedom of information and a violation of the standards of a fair trial.

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