One of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists
The press freedom situation has become more and more alarming under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who engineered a second term as president in early 2018. Egypt is now one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists. Some spend years in detention without being charged or tried. Others have been sentenced to long jail terms or even life imprisonment in iniquitous mass trials. The authorities have waged a witch-hunt since 2013 against journalists suspected of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and have orchestrated a “Sisification” of the media. The Internet is the only place left where independently reported information can circulate, but more than 500 websites have been blocked since the summer of 2017 and more are more people are being arrested because of their social network posts.
An increasingly draconian legislative arsenal poses an additional threat to media freedom. Under a terrorism law adopted in August 2015, journalists are obliged on national security grounds to report only the official version of “terrorist” attacks. In 2018, new cyber-crime and media laws enshrined government control over the media and made it possible to prosecute and imprison journalists and close websites for sharing independently reported information online. Some news websites chose to shut down rather than try to comply with such repressive legislation.
Journalists and human rights defenders are meanwhile banned from much of the Sinai region and from providing independent coverage of any military operation. Coverage of many economic subjects, including inflation and corruption, can also result in imprisonment. The 2018 presidential election intensified the censorship and accelerated the pace with which media outlets are closed. The foreign media are also targeted, with articles being blocked online or attacked by officials, and reporters being expelled or banned from visiting Egypt.
161 in 2018
56.72 in 2018