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Media Freedom Declaration Cairo ,May 3rd , 2011

May 28, 2011 by   ·   No comment

 

National Coalition for Media Freedom, NCMF

www.ncmf.info

 

Media Freedom Declaration

Egyptians journalists and media staff celebrate with their colleagues across the globe the World Press Freedom Day. On this day, May 3rd ,twenty years ago, Windhoek Declaration  was issued  from our  continent ,Africa,  to emphasize the crucial role of  free and independent press in  development and protection of democracy  and as well as in  the economic development of all countries .

Two years later, the day was chosen by the General Assembly of the United Nations as the international day for  press freedom.

Certainly, celebrating this day in the atmosphere of the  glorious revolution  of January 25th gives it a special flavor.  So much as this revolution, was and still is, the realization of the will of the people to overthrow tyranny , symbols of corruption and emergency ruling, it is also the ingenious result of the perseverance of  media people, journalists and free writers and Egyptian youth in using new media  and social networking with great awareness and creativity.

We have exposed the state ruled media to the whole world. It became obvious that state ruled media sides with regime and the ruling party. All exceptional measures such as terrorizing media  personnel, interrupting the Internet and mobile phones ‘ service failed to conceal the truth and could not stop people marching forward.

At the moment in which all state controlled media collapsed altogether, revolutionary forces stepped up their campaign to clean official media and state press of symbols of corruption and servants of the former regime.

The transitional authority replaced old faces with new ones, whereas others managed to put up a new profile to keep up with the revolutionary scene. However, it is not enough to replace old faces and perhaps change some policies, to reach an independent media that ensures the right of citizens to communication,  knowledge , information and free expression. As well, a few ad hoc decisions or measures will not yield Egyptian media tools as guards and catalysts of democracy and of  the overall development of state institutions and society.

It is quiet normal in light of the revolution that every Egyptian would volunteer to answer such questions, and positively contribute to the media that Egyptians want. For media professionals, regardless of their backgrounds, it is their duty to  expose irregularities and corruption that impeded them for decades from doing their job in a professional satisfactory way. It is their mission to take the initiative and put forward ideas and visions, both for restructuring media institutes and to protect them from  any interference detrimental to their ability to meet everyone’s right to free and responsible media .

In this context, a group of civil society organizations and media activists took steps forward to establish a national coalition to coordinate their efforts seeking free media. The coalition decided to inaugurate its mission with a declaration of  visions and principal issues of freedom of the Egyptian media  and associated attitudes and functions.

We hereby confirm the following principles :

First: The liberation of the Egyptian media of all forms of domination and security and governmental control and the exclusion of all sources of domination and political and economic containment of all media as a community and  public demand to enhance the change to democracy of state  and society institutes.

Second: Protection of the right to freedom of expression, and all  related freedoms, such as freedom of thought and opinion media, press , circulation of information  and the associated rights, such as the right knowledge, communication, assembly, demonstration, association and trade unions. All human rights should not be restricted or disabled except  under specific , legitimate and acceptable justifications of a democratic society.

Third: To recognize the right of media professionals to access news and information and to circulate them through all  public and private media on equal footing. They also have the right to full access to the national archives. There is a need for a democratic bill of information binding to all ministries and public bodies to auto publish relevant public documents and deliver them upon request to citizens with no bureaucratic overhead.

Fourth: Recognizing the right of all individuals and legal personalities to own and establish media institutes in accordance with the regulations established by an independent national body which would prevent media monopoly as well as prevent using media in libel , violation of privacy and attacks on rights of audience. Media should not be used  to promote hate speech, violence, discrimination and degradation  of human dignity, or damaging peoples’ interests, agreed upon by national consensus.

Fifth: Support Internet access, communication and publication as a human right . The coalition should stimulate internet users to take the initiative and  develop a code of  ethics.

Sixth: The need to work to rid the Egyptian media of the  mono performance which ignores facts of pluralism and diversity which are pillars of strength in the Egyptian society  and national unity. Egypt needs as well to get rid of the excessive centralization and  monopoly of the capital, Cairo, of all audio-visual broadcasting centers and various publications and removal of all security and administrative restrictions and barriers that deprived regions of Egypt  from their  right to make their own media.

Seventh: Call to review and develop the legislative framework governing the freedom of expression and opinion, under the umbrella of principles of the supreme constitutional court and international conventions .This review should consider the relevant constitutional ,ownership and management patterns of the existing state-ruled media institutions . As well the review must include all articles restricting media freedom in general and specific legislations that criminalize criticizing public officials ,punish with imprisonment in publication crimes , criminalize public official declaring statement or information , breach guarantees of professional practice ,the excessive issuance of publication bans  and various forms of censorship on national and foreign publications.

Eighth: The importance of starting to prepare and implement a phased plan for the rehabilitation of public media and currently state-ruled newspapers aiming to do their part as public interests institutions and liberating them from the interference of executive authorities, political organizations and parties and pressures of interest groups and influence of advertisers. In addition, the role of audit and monitoring bodies must be activated to combat corruption in these facilities. There is an urgent need to modernize management operation and training systems and measure them to international standards of transparency, efficiency and productivity.

Ninth : Dismantling the ministry of Information and the supreme press council  and replacing them with the council of independent media to be formed of  senior professionals, specialists and public figures.  This council is authorized to receive newspapers and audio-visual channels issuance notifications and to ensure their commitment to professionalism and code of ethics approved by media professionals themselves.

Tenth: Media personnel in various specialties are free to  establish their independent trade unions without interference of owners or management of media institutes. Trade unions defend media personnel interests and stand for their rights . As well unions should adopt regulations of fair wages and social guarantees that must be  in proportion with the nature of media work and potential risks.

The National Coalition for Media Freedom ,NCMF, states that the transitional period of the Egyptian revolution that blended all social interaction and solidarity of all national and democratic powers  has inspired all parties that bear responsibility of working for a better tomorrow to be  eligible to absorb and put forward  convened principles and perspectives. All stakeholders are bound to complete tasks and concrete steps on the path of media reform , pave the way for democratic reform of a media system worthy of the Egyptian people and their victorious revolution.

The coalition proposes the most important of these tasks and steps:

1-To stop immediately to the state of emergency that was directly responsible for rooting tyranny and violation of public and private freedoms, and specifically the  freedom of opinion ,expression , press and  media.

2-To call for the formation of public committees to conduct national dialogue in the various provinces to agree on principles and concepts of the new constitution and to introduce the work of the constituent assembly which will draft the constitution .

3-To provide legal protection for all media and  to consider all forms of prohibition of communication , exchange of information and prosecution of bloggers a violation of  freedom of expression by peaceful legitimate means.

4-To restructure the ministry of communications and information technology to be able to play a key role in providing information and information technology programs and training at the national level, and legally bind the ministry not to interrupt  telecommunications services.

5 – Restrict the role of the  National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to the broadcasting technical issues.

6- The importance that all state-owned media would commit to a declared code of ethics to neutrally cover all public political competitions and  give equal opportunities to various forces , political organizations  and independent candidates to present their programs to the public.

7- Urge media institutes to adopt self regulatory bodies that reflect their vision ,mission , job description ,editorial policies and basic principles.

8 – To urge all press and media institutions to publish budgets and financial statements annually ,to agree on a transparent system to verify distribution figures and work out a code to appropriately penalize  violators.

9-To urge media institutions currently owned by the state to set lower and upper wage limits .Other media institutes are bound to set a lower wage limit to narrow the gap between incomes and achieve justice and stability.

10- To emphasize the illegitimacy of trying civilians, including journalists, writers , media staff and bloggers before the special and military courts, particularly in publication and opinion cases. Should a media person be prosecuted in a publication or opinion case, proper fair defense must be guaranteed and a union representative must attend the investigations.

11 – To invite trade unions, associations and civil society organizations to create monitoring units and violation an analysis of freedom of expression the rights of viewers and readers and intellectual property, whether these violation were committed by public authorities, media institutions or individuals . These violations should be regularly published.

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The National Coalition for Media Freedom, NCMF

  • The National Coalition for  Media Freedom, NCMF, is  a democratic framework  that aims at combining and coordinating efforts of civil society organizations, journalists and activists interested in the development of the Egyptian media on basis of independence from all  forms of government political and economic dominance and containment.
  • NCMF  works to implement a number of programs and projects for the development of legislations governing media and press work  and institutions and to promote citizens’ rights in knowledge, communication , information and freedom of opinion and expression, , raise the efficiency of media performance and leverage professionalism and to seek public interaction with people and media personnel through its various activities, and through its website www.ncmf.info
  • The coalition idea was born on 13/3/2011, the coalition was established on 30 /4/2011. NCMF membership includes  13 human rights , unions and research organizations and trade union  and 20 media activists.
  • Membership of the coalition is open to Egyptians civil society organizations and activists in the field of media development in accordance with the statute of the coalition.

 

 

 

 

Founder Members

Organizations Media staff,  activists , journalists and bloggers
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information Ibrahim Mansour
Hisham Mubarak Law Center Bilal Fadl
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression Hussein Abdel-Ghani
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Khaled elSergani
Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Rajai elMerghani
United Group Taher Abou elNasr
Alternatives Arab Studies Center Karem Yehia
MADA for media development Mohammed Imran
Association for Human Rights Legal Aid Nora Younis
Union of journalists “under construction” Yasser alZayat
Bokra Foundation for Media Production and Media Studies and Human Rights Yasser Abdel-Aziz
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Ikram Youssef
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement Bassiouni Hamada
Ahmed Mustafa
Mahmoud Attia
Hamdi alAssuity
Soha alNakkash
Khaled albalshi
Ahmed Naji
Adel Nour El Din 

 

 

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