Newsletter 621

29 December, 2016

Freedom of Expression in a Week

Newsletter 621

21 December 2016- 28 December 2016


UN Human Rights Office urges Bahrain to release rights activist Nabeel Rajab

On the 23rd of this month, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed their serious concern about the ongoing prosecution of Nabeel Rajab, a co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who has been detained since 13 June 2016 for exercising his right to freedom of expression, in connection with some comments on social media regarding torture in prison and critiquing the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen.

Liz Throssell, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Rajab.

We also urge the Government of Bahrain to take all necessary steps to secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with fundamental principles set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bahrain ratified in 2006”, Throssell further said.

For more information on Bahrain:


Iraqi journalist Afrah Shawqi kidnapped for publishing article on police violence

On Monday night, 26 December 2016, some gunmen disguised as security officers stormed into the house of Iraqi journalist Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi, located in Al-Sayedia region, and took her to unknown place.

Hours before her abduction, in Monday morning, Afrah published an article in a local media outlet criticizing an Interior Ministry officer who badly beat a school principal (at the Nasiriyah city, Dhi Qar province) in front of students and teachers.

For further news on Iraq:


11 civil society organizations denounce deterioration of liberties and call for the release of Hamdy Al-Khalify pending investigations

In a joint statement, a group of 11 civil society organizations warned against taking part in the 2nd forum of civil society organizations in Hammat city, eastern north of Tunis, due to the recent distractions took place in the filed of human right and basic freedoms.

The organizations added that such deterioration is represented in the escalating ban of foreign journalists and media outlets reporters while covering incidents under the pretext that they are not holding the required permits in order to impose further pressure on them.

The organizations also emphasized the need to properly confront and eradicate the phenomenon of terrorism calling for vigilance so that fighting terrorism would not be used as a justification for the establishment of a police state curbing freedom of expression.

On the other hand, Court of First Instance in Sfax ordered, on December 24, the release of novelist Hammadi Khulaifi, pending investigation into suspicions leveled against him on account of a satirical comments on “Twitter”, in which he hoped that the Tunisian President Caid Essebsi’s personal guard would do with him like what the killer of the Russian Ambassador in Ankara did.

For further news on Tunisia:


Court of Appeal reduces prison sentences against “Azamn” journalists, revokes the decision to shut down the newspaper

On the 26th of December, Court of Appeal sentenced both Yousef Al-Haj to one year in prison and Ibrahim Al-Maamari to 6 months in prison while acquitting Zaher Al-Abri, to include the time they have spent in detention to date. The court also revoked the decision to shut down “Azamn” newspaper which was issued by the Ministry of Information for publishing articles alleging corruption in the senior judiciary.

On the 26th of September this year, noteworthy, the Muscat Court of First Instance sentenced both Azamn’s Chief Editor Ibrahim al-Maamari and the Editorial Secretary Yousef al-Baloushi- aka Yousef Al-Haj- to three years of imprisonment in addition to to a fine of 3000 RO (US $7,800) per capita, and a ban on working as a journalist for a period of one year.

The court also sentenced Zaher Al-Abri, a journalist in the same newspaper, to one-year imprisonment and fined him a thousand Omani riyals (US $1125). The court set a bail of 50,000 rials ($ 56,290) for Mamari and Balushi in case they decided to appeal the rulings, while Abri’s bail was set at 5,000 rials ($ 13,000).

For further news on Oman:


The one-year suspended prison sentence against “Hisham Geneina” into “spreading false news” upheld

The New Cairo Misdemeanours Court upheld on Thursday a verdict issued against the former chief of Egypt’s Central Auditing Authority (CAA) sentencing him to one year in prison, with a conditional three-year probation period, and a fine of LE20,000, on a charge of spreading false news on corruption in Egypt.

Imprisonment of journalists Mohamed Hassan, Hamdy Al-Zaem, and Osama Al-Beshbeshy renewed for 15 days

Downtown Cairo Prosecution ordered the imprisonment renewal of Mohamed Hassan, journalist at “Al-Nabaa” newspaper, along with journalists Hamdy Al-Zaem, who is working for “Al-Hayah” newspaper, and Osama Al-Beshbeshy from “Belady” news agency, for 15 days pending investigations.

The Republic of Maspero.. A new study by ANHRI giving a reform perspective for ERTU

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) publishes a new study reflects a modest effort and assiduousness to reform the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU), and how it could be transformed to a public service media that is funded by the people providing a media service for them, rather than being used as a platform for the government-backed media.

The 52-medium size page study, entitled “The Republic of Maspero.. ERTU – The Egyptian Radio and Television Union from a reform perspective”, is prepared by media researcher Amer El-Wekeel” and based on the study of previous international experiences, such as that of South African experience and the Czech Republic, in addition to several interviews and Egyptian alongside foreign media experts and professionals.

The study involves many statistics relating to Maspero and examples of the media content problem. It also monitors the most important TV channels and radio stations and how they can be operating in a way that would achieve the public service media.

The report study also includes a discussion and comments on major legislative provisions in connection with the press and media as well as the National Media Organization (NMO).

ANHRI condemns detention of Al Jazeera journalist“Mahmoud Hussein” and calls for his release

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said today that the detention of Mahmoud Hussein, a journalist at Al Jazeera news, indicates the Egyptian government’s ongoing crackdown on press freedom and prosecution of journalists not because of their involvement in a crime but for working in channels that are against the state.

According to Al Jazeera, the Egyptian security forces arrested Mahmoud Hussein upon his return from Qatar last Tuesday and during a visit with his family in Egypt, adding that two of his brothers were also arrested. They were all then taken to unknown place.

Yasser Abuhilala, managing director of Al Jazeera news, affirmed that Hussein was in Egypt to visit his family, and not for work purposes.

For further information about freedom of thought and expression in Egypt:

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