The head of Egypt's Journalists Syndicate Abdel-Mohsen Salama
The head of Egypt's Journalists Syndicate Abdel-Mohsen Salama thanked on Sunday President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for supporting press freedom, adding that this support has helped resolve a dispute between parliament and the syndicate on newly approved laws regulating the press and the media.
Salama also expressed appreciation for parliament and its speaker Ali Abdel-Aal, as well as parliament's culture and media committee, for responding to most of the notes and suggestions presented by the syndicate about controversial articles in the new laws.
Earlier on Sunday, parliament approved amendments to three laws regulating the media and press in a plenary session; the National Press Authority Law (NPA), the National Media Authority Law (NMA), and the Law Regulating the Press and the Media and the Higher Council of Media Regulation.
The three laws were provisionally approved by parliament on 10 and 11 June, creating controversy as the journalists syndicate said that it was not consulted when the laws were drafted.
According to Salama, the syndicate presented over the past few weeks suggestions and notes about the articles concerning press and media freedom.
The criticism focused on articles dealing with the retirement age of journalists in national press organisations, the composition of the general assembly of national press organisations, and penalties related to publication offences.
The syndicate complained that the new laws strip journalists of having a say in the running of their own press organisations and that it paves the way for privatising these institutions.
Parliament agreed to amend Article 29 of the Law Regulating the Press and Media, which originally allowed for the detention pending trial of journalists accused of inciting hatred or promoting discrimination between citizens or impinging their honour.
The amended article now states that "no freedom restricting penalties shall be imposed in publication or publicity crimes."
Salama also praised the cabinet's role in bridging the gap in points of view between parliament and the syndicate.
Salama also requested that dialogue between the syndicate and parliament continue concerning the executive bylaws of the new legislations.
The laws still have to be ratified by the president before they go into effect.