On this day, every year all journalists around the world celebrate their day, the day that coincided with the meeting of representatives of a number of independent newspapers in the African city, Windhoek, in the State of Namibia in 1991. The UNESCO adopted this day to be an occasion to remind the international community of the rights of journalists and the press.
On this day, HMLC and AFTE welcome the decision of the Court of Misdemeanors in Mahala (second section) an approval to challenge Penal Code articles 188 (specified for the publication of false news), 302, 303, 306 and 307 (specified for defamation). Both institutions see that access of such articles to the Constitutional Court is an opportunity to purify the Egyptian legislative structure of those authoritarian articles which impede the work of Egyptian press.
HMLC and AFTE consider this decision as a gift for journalists and journalism at their festival especially that it is the first challenge on article 188, which criminalize the dissemination of false news, with which a number of journalists and activists were tried for in the past years. Perhaps the best known cases are the cases of Ibrahim Issa in the case of the president’s health and Saad Eddin Ibrahim in the case of political arithmetic. In addition, it is the first challenge that is considered by the Supreme Constitutional Court, for articles on defamation after the amendment and limiting the punishment to a fine.
It is worth mentioning that The Misdemeanor Court of Mahala (second section) announced to HMLC and AFTE the approval of challenging articles numbers 188, 302, 303, 306, 307 of the Penal Code. Moreover, it set a time for the session on 5/13/2009 to put it into action before the Supreme Constitutional Court, in Case No. 192 for the year 2009 in the Misdemeanor Court of Mahala, where Ibrahim Eissa, editor in chief of El Dostoor newspaper, Mohammed Abul Dahab and Mustafa Bassiouni, editors in the same newspaper, and Jihad Taman and Tarek Amin Workers of the Ghazl el Mahala Company (textile company in Mahala) were accused.
The Textile company in Mahala had filed a misdemeanor suit through immediate prosecution against journalists and workers; accusing them of publishing false news and defamation of the company. It demanded their punishment under articles 188 and 302 of the Penal Code, using a published report in El Dostoor newspaper on 28/10/2009 including news about the strikes of textile workers in Mahala.
The lawyers of HMLC and AFTE represented the journalists and workers. They stated the unconstitutionality of the accusation articles as they violate the Egyptian Constitution and international covenants of human rights. The Court decided to permit the challenge to take action on those articles to the Supreme Constitutional Court.