After criticism, Egypt premier says anti-terrorism draft law does not target journalists

Wednesday 08-07-2015 09:06 PM
After criticism, Egypt premier says anti-terrorism draft law does not target journalists

CAIRO, Jul 8 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's press syndicate agreed to send amendments of the draft anti-terrorism law to the cabinet, after a meeting on Wednesday between the head of the syndicate and the premier. 

The controversial proposed law has recently come under much critcism, most recently by 17 local civil society organisations in a joint statement.

The press syndicate said it contains "dangerous articles",  which threaten the freedom of the press.

They included Article 33 which punishes by a minimum of two years in prison the publishing of "false news or data" which contradict official data on "terrorist operations".

When the draft law was approved, "no one had the intention to restrict freedom of the press and the media," Prime Minister Ibrhaim Mehleb told the head of the press syndicate, Yehia Qallash, state news agency MENA reported.

The meeting was attended by the chief editors of several newspapers, who requested that Article 33 of the proposed law is removed so as to not "equate journalists with people accused of terrorism."

Mehleb said the intention behind the law was to protect national security. 

The proposed law was approved one week ago, at the weekly meeting of the cabinet, but it still awaits presidential approval before it comes into effect. Its approval came on a day marred by deadly violence in North Sinai, after militants launched a failed attempt to take over a town. 

This was one day after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowed to amend laws, saying the hand of "prompt justice" is "tied" with laws, but "we will work on amending the law to achieve justice."

The Egyptian cabinet said last week after approving the proposed law, that it achieves "swift and just deterrence".

Yet in their joint statement on Tuesday, the 17 civil society groups said "the proposed law makes us fear for the collapse of the state itself."

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