Sisi ratifies new law on press and media in Egypt

Mahmoud Aziz, Saturday 1 Sep 2018

File photo: Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi Reuters

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ratified on Saturday the law regulating press and media, which was approved by the House of Representatives in June.

The ratification of Law 180 of 2018 was published in the official gazette, stating the law shall apply to all entities, institutions, press, media outlets and websites.

The 110 articles of the law provide detailed regulations, as it also specifies the duties of the three bodies entrusted with regulating the work of media and press in the country, namely the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, the National Media Authority and the National Press Authority. Press refers to all publications, while media refers to all broadcast content. 

Article 19 of the law states that any newspaper, media outlet or website is prohibited from publishing or broadcasting false news and encouraging or inciting violence, hatred, and/or discrimination between citizens, as well as calling for racism or promoting intolerance and violations of the law. It also prohibits slander or insult to religions.

The law further states that “the article applies to personal blogs or social media accounts with more than 5,000 followers.”

Article 20 of the law states “exposure of the private life of citizens, public servants, and public prosecutors is prohibited, in any publication or broadcast, except for matters related to their work and aimed at serving the public interest.”

According to the law, journalists and media are prohibited from publishing anything that may affect the stance of those involved in any official investigation or trial. Doing so may result in the publication or media outlet being banned.

“Newspapers, media outlets and websites are required to be committed to publish and broadcast the decisions of the prosecution, the rulings issued in the cases dealt with during an investigation or the trial, and a summary of the reasons for them,” the law adds.

Article 29 of the law stipulates that penalties "which deprive journalists of their freedom” will not be imposed for crimes committed by a publication or media entity, “with the exception of offenses related to the incitement to violence, discrimination between citizens, or targeting the dignity of individuals.”

“The office or residence of a journalist shall not be searched over any crime committed by the press or the media institution, except in the presence of a member of the public prosecution”, the law states.

Following this, Article 31 stipulates “a journalist or a media person shall not be criminally penalised for challenging the work of a public official or servant through publication or broadcasting unless it is proven that the publication or broadcast was made with bad intentions, was baseless, or was not related to the work of this prosecution or public service.”

In order to establish a private newspaper, private individuals or entities must deposit EGP 6 million in a licensed bank in Egypt  if the newspaper is daily, EGP 2 million pounds if weekly, EGP 1 million if it is a monthly or regional daily paper, EGP 400,000 if regional weekly, and EGP 200,000 if it is regional monthly

On Friday, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ratified another law establishing the National Press Authority, which was passed by the House of Representatives in June.

The state body is tasked with upgrading the performance of national press organisations by supervising their financial and administrative activities, while the head of the entity is to be selected by the president.


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