“We welcome President Morsi’s decree and the signal it sends that the Government of Egypt wishes to respect freedom of expression,” said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy. “But it remains a largely symbolic measure, unless concerted measures are taken to reform the whole area of criminal defamation law in Egypt.”
The CLD Statement makes a number of recommendations for reform, including the following:
➢ The criminal charges against Afifi and others charged with insulting the President should be dropped immediately.
➢ The whole criminal defamation regime should be repealed and replaced with appropriate civil defamation rules. The criminal rules against publishing false news should also be repealed.
➢ The system of pre-trial sanctions should be limited to highly exceptional cases where such measures are fully justified in all of the circumstances.
➢ The rules on the Journalist Syndicate, which effectively create a two-tier status among journalists, should be reviewed in consultation with stakeholders to come up with a more democratic approach.