AFTE publishes a report on the status of foreign journalists and correspondents in Egypt: 25 January 2011 – October 2014
The Freedom of Media program at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, publishes on Thursday a report entitled, “Status of Foreign Journalists and Correspondents in Egypt: 25 January 2011-2014”, to provide a realistic image of the status and conditions of the work environment for foreign correspondents and journalists in Egypt. The report observes and lists the abuses that correspondents have experienced and are still experiencing, almost on daily bases, during the conduction of their journalistic work. The report also reviews many key obstacles that could compromise the ability of journalists to undertake their work.
This report appears at a time when the journalists’ community in Egypt is facing unprecedented challenges and difficulties, in view of the widespread hostility against the media and the press. This discourse is supported by the attitudes of the media supportive of state policies and the measures taken to combat terrorism.
Unfortunately, this has a negative impact, creating an inferior stereotypical image of the role of foreign media in Egypt as “biased”, and “antagonistic to the positions of the state and its national security.” Foreign media is also depicted as a space for “spreading rumors”, and “targeting the interests of the state.” All such allegations are addressed and challenged by highlighting the observations and the remarks made by foreign journalists and correspondents during their interviews with the association’s researchers.
The report primarily focuses on the testimonies of some foreign journalists and correspondents, whom AFTE managed to interview concerning their work environment in Egypt, professional challenges they face continuously, and recommendations made thereby to improve the status of their work.
The report is divided into three main parts: Part (1) recounts the facts of abuses sustained by foreign journalists and correspondents over the past three years, amounting to 184 assaults, as monitored by the AFTE researchers and detailed in an appendix to the report. Abuses run the gamut of physical and sexual assaults, murder, confiscation of equipment and personal belongings, and raiding the residences of journalists, as well as precluding journalists and correspondents from doing their job.
Part (2) of the report discusses the daily difficulties facing foreign correspondents as they go about their daily journalistic business. This is done through reviewing the reasons for the aggravation of “xenophobia” circulating on various local media. There is also a discussion of the difficulties facing journalists in accessing information, and reasons for non-collaboration by the state agencies in this regard, which makes the work of journalists more difficult, and puts additional pressure thereon. This part tackles the procedures for the issuance of permits for journalists, and their worth in achieving legal protection and security of the foreign correspondent.
Part (3) of the report concludes with the attempt to define the role of foreign media in Egypt, by reviewing examples of some press reports and features, which managed to highlight several key issues. The closing part discusses a set of final recommendations to the government and decision making circles in the state, as well as to the owners and managers of the various media. These recommendations seek to improve the work environment of foreign correspondents and journalists, by ceasing the hate rhetoric and taking serious steps towards the compliance by the government of its obligations to protect the right of journalists to access and disseminate information, to facilitate the task of journalists and correspondents in obtaining work permits and remove restrictions on their access to and publiching of information.