Rights Organizations To Call For Supporting The Victims Of The Media Intrusion In Private Life Of The Citizens, And For Stopping Such Shameful Conduct
The undersigned express their apprehension at broadcasting a program on Monday 14 Dec. 2015 by Sada el-Balad satellite channel presented by the reporter Ahmad Moussa. In this episode, Moussa broadcast video spots from the private life of one of the public figures, demanding that he explains his position and that he addresses the public indicating whether such images are truly of him or otherwise.
This incident is part of a larger context where media professionals continue to infringe upon the privacy of individuals by broadcasting/ publishing private pictures, video spots, and parts of telephone conversations for a wide range of persons, who are not necessarily public figures. This targeting is driven by a desire to threaten and blackmail or simply defame, or has the intention of achieving higher viewership.
The undersigned confirm that the private life of individuals is inviolable and is not and should not be subject of public controversy. In fact, those who violate the law and the Constitution by accessing information on people’s private life to display in public should be ashamed.
Furthermore, the undersigned emphasize that the situation could not have deteriorated to such levels had official state agencies, represented by the police and prosecution, played their role of prosecuting and penalizing perpetrators based on just trials subject to Penal Code articles 309 and 309 (a) (bis) concerning tapping and broadcasting personal telephone conversations and pictures – whose penalty is imprisonment. Article 57 of the Egyptian Constitution also established the inviolability of private life of individuals and the confidentiality of their conversations and correspondences. It is noteworthy as well that ignoring the investigation of reports on infringement of private life and failing to prosecute perpetrators has become a pattern, which encourages violators to feel secure and to be assured of impunity, to the detriment of any remnants of the rule of law in the country.
The undersigned also note the hazard of leaving the regulation of the media completely in the hands of state agencies. Many of the crimes committed nowadays on TV and radio channels and in the press (which need to be addressed by the state) would not have happened had the community of journalists by the Press Syndicate been undertaking the mandated roles, namely ensuring professionalism and autonomy of journalism. This would not have been the case, either, had the community of reporters held accountable any member who damages the reputation of news reporting and opinion writing, and who undermines the ability of the profession to contribute to a democratic society where people are protected, accepted, and integrated.
Finally, the undersigned support the individuals whose privacy is infringed upon without exceptions or classification based on identity or position in the public sphere. The victims are all called upon not to fall into the trap of explaining any aspects of their private life and to refuse to be held accountable for such. All members of the society are urged to advocate the right to privacy and to put pressure by all appropriate means to prosecute, contain, and eradicate this epidemic of tapping. Indeed, given the reluctance of the state and state agencies, the society shall have the main role to play in reviewing the media with the entailing protection of individuals – as was perceived in the exemplary response to the infringement by the reporter Riham Said the presenter of the program “Sabaya el-Kheir.”
Alhaqanya Center for Law and Legal profession
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
Appropriate Communications Techniques for Development
Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies
Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance
El-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination
The Egyptian Coalition for Child Rights
The National Group for Human Rights and law
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
The Egyptian Association for Promoting Child Conditions
The New Woman Foundation
Habi Center for Environmental Rights
Land Center for Human Rights
Nazra for Feminist Studies