Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate launched on Sunday its fifth general conference – with this year’s theme titled “Towards a new legislative environment” – at a time when parliament is discussing new press laws.
The conference, part of the syndicate’s diamond jubilee celebrations and the first since 2004, will last four days and will include sessions on a number of journalistic and media topics.
Some of the topics for discussion include press freedoms in a climate dominated by security concerns over terrorism, the future of state-owned newspapers, and the future of private and partisan outlets.
The parliament is currently reviewing a unified law regulating media and press operations drafted by 50 press and law experts and presented by the Journalists Syndicate, as well as press law drafts prepared by the state.
“The conference is considered an affirmation that journalists stand united behind the unified press law as there are attempts to portray the community as divided,” Karem Mahmoud, head of the syndicate’s legislation committee, told Ahram Online.
Mahmoud added that the conference is also an important opportunity for journalists to draft “modern” syndicate bylaws to replace those in place since 1970.
Discussions of the new bylaws are likely to involve articles on online news outlets, as they did not exist during the drafting of the original bylaws. It could also include changing the conditions for admitting members, as the current conditions only admit journalists with print newspapers and after they get a permanent contract in their respective organisations.
The Journalists Syndicate has been advocating for laws that give greater freedoms to journalists and eliminate prison sentences in publication offences.
The syndicate recently called for a general assembly to discuss the new press laws, but the meeting was postponed twice for lack of quorum.