Egyptian PM 'admitted that media restrictions in anti-terror law were a mistake': Press syndicate

Ahram Online , Friday 10 Jul 2015

North Sinai
A member of Egypt's security forces gestures as he stands on a watchtower in North Sinai (Photo: Reuters)

The Egyptian government has acknowledged that it was a mistake to publish a draft law that limits how journalists report terrorist incidents without first consulting the press syndicate, a syndicate official said Thursday.

The draft anti-terrorism legislation contains a controversial article which states that anyone who intentionally publishes information on a terrorist operation other than that which is cited in government statements can be sentenced to at least two years in prison.

The press syndicate issued a statement on Sunday condemning the article, arguing that it impedes the journalists from doing their job of collecting information from different sources, and gives the executive branch the authority to impose restrictions on press freedoms.

Gamal Abdel-Rehim, the syndicate's under-secretary, said in a statement that the syndicate's board had held a meeting with Prime Minster Ibrahim Mahlab and seven other minsters on Thursday.

According to Abdel-Rehim, the prime minister recognised that the government should have requested the syndicate's opinion about the draft law, as Article 77 of the constitution obliges the government to refer bills to the relevant syndicate.

"The government has promised to remove the controversial article from the final law," Abdel-Rehim added.

The government has tried to issue the draft law several times since the spike in violence following former president Mohamed Morsi's ouster in July 2013.

Once the draft law is finalised it will be sent to President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi for official ratification. 

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