The problem of freedom of the press in Egypt was as soon as once more highlighted with the sentencing of TV presenter Mohamed al-Gheiti on 24 January 2019 to at least one 12 months in jail for interviewing a homosexual man. In response to the Committee to Defend Journalists (CPJ), al-Gheiti was sentenced by a Giza Misdemeanor Courtroom for “selling homosexuality and inciting debauchery”. This marks a brand new growth in Egypt’s already infamous crackdown on its LGBTQI+ inhabitants, as Human Rights Watch (HRW) identified, as it’s being prolonged to journalists who even talk about their scenario.
This crackdown is mixed with what Reporters With out Borders (RSF) known as the ‘Sisification’ of Egypt’s media, which is being more and more managed by a handful of people related to the state and the key companies in addition to these with shut ties to the previous president Hosni Mubarak, ousted throughout the 2011 revolution. That is detailed in RSF’s newly launched Media Possession Monitor Egypt. To spotlight this challenge, and in anticipation of French president Macron’s three-day go to to Egypt on 27 January, RSF revealed the portraits of ten Egyptian journalists at present imprisoned, though the overall is not less than 32. Early in January, al-Sisi claimed in an interview that his authorities held no political prisoners, an announcement condemned as a lie by HRW, which estimates the quantity to be at over 60,000.
Moreover, on 25 January, varied human rights teams, together with IFEX members Cairo Institute for Human Rights Research (CIHRS) and Arabic Community for Human Rights Info (ANHRI), signed an announcement calling on al-Sisi to declare that he’ll respect the structure and depart workplace upon the tip of his time period in June 2022.
Bahrain has itself over 4,000 political prisoners, based on People for Human Rights and Democracy in Bahrain (ADHRB). Among the many many strategies used to crack down on dissent within the kingdom is the stripping away of residents’ nationality, with the Bahrain Middle for Human Rights (BCHR) documenting 26 such circumstances shortly earlier than Four January. These apply to folks sentenced over varied costs, together with these pressured to make ‘confessions’ underneath torture. In the meantime, human rights activist Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace spent yet one more birthday in jail on 15 January and main opposition determine, Sheikh Ali Salman, had his life sentence upheld by the dominion’s Courtroom of Cassation on 28 January. As ADHRB famous, Dr. al-Singace and Sheikh Ali Salman are serving life sentences for his or her peaceable participation within the 2011 revolution.
In Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) reported that girl human rights defender Israa Al-Ghomgham’s trial didn’t happen as was deliberate on 13 January, after which introduced on 1 February that she is not going through the dying penalty. She was arrested alongside along with her husband Mousa Al-Hashim on 6 December 2015, and they’re each nonetheless in jail. Al-Ghomgham’s case made worldwide headlines resulting from the truth that the Public Prosecutor known as for her execution by beheading, which might make her the primary girl to be executed for her activism in Saudi Arabia.
In addition to that, the month began with some excellent news because the Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed safely reached Canada on 12 January after being granted asylum following a worldwide on-line marketing campaign. She had been detained every week earlier by Thai authorities on the request of the Saudi authorities. Rahaf stated that she had renounced Islam, against the law punishable by dying in Saudi Arabia, and stated that she was fleeing an abusive household. HRW famous that underneath Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system, she had no authorized proper to make primary choices “with out the settlement of her male guardian”.
In Iraq, photojournalist Samer Ali Hussain was killed in unknown circumstances on the night time of 9 January, based on the GCHR. His physique was discovered with gunshot wounds east of Baghdad, prompting GCHR to name for an impartial investigation into his dying. His dying got here shortly after the Iraqi parliament accomplished its first studying of the notorious draft Cybercrime Legislation on 12 January, though the 2 occasions aren’t related. The Cybercrime Legislation, if handed with out obligatory amendments, would criminalise, amongst different issues, those that are accused of “prejudice” towards the “independence, unity, integrity or financial, political, navy or safety pursuits of the nation”. The obscure language of this text and others would, as GCHR famous, make it straightforward for authorities to utilize the regulation to focus on human rights defenders or different dissidents. Moreover, Kurdish forces attacked seven journalists and media employees whereas they had been protecting protests towards a Turkish navy base in Shaladze in northern Iraqi Kurdistan, based on the Worldwide Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Authorities additionally shut down the workplace of the native tv they reported for, NRT, in Duhok metropolis.
In Lebanon, Maharat Basis and Social Media Trade (SMEX), each members of the Advisory Committee, took half within the first Lebanon Web Governance Discussion board (LIGF) in November 2018. They had been a part of the nation’s civil society calling for, amongst different issues, freedom of expression and opposing the trial of civilians in navy courts for expressing their opinions on-line. Maharat additionally tried to incorporate the nation’s youth within the Web Governance Discussion board with the “Take Your Seats” marketing campaign. IFEX has revealed an English translation of Maharat’s report on the convention, which incorporates a number of movies.
SMEX confirmed on 23 January 2019 that Grindr, a well-liked on-line courting software utilized by Lebanon’s LGBTQI+ inhabitants, was blocked on the principle 3G and 4G cellular knowledge networks. In an announcement co-signed by ARTICLE 19 amongst others, SMEX requested clarification by the Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications. SMEX can be calling on folks to assist them map blocked web sites in Lebanon in 2019.
In Palestine, the Palestinian Middle for Improvement and Media Freedoms (MADA) launched their report for December 2018 during which they documented 43 assaults on media freedoms, 32 of which had been dedicated by Israeli occupation forces whereas the remaining 11 had been dedicated by Palestinian forces. In the meantime, the Arab Middle for the Development of Social Media (7amleh), in cooperation with Privateness Worldwide, launched a report on 28 January entitled Connection Interrupted during which they element Israel’s management over Info and communication expertise (ICT) infrastructure within the West Financial institution and Gaza. 7amleh additionally organised the Palestinian Digital Activism Discussion board between 16 and 18 January during which over 30 representatives from human rights and media teams, in addition to journalists, activists and different actors from all through Israel/Palestine, spoke about digital media and digital rights.
This comes as Palestinian journalists Zaid Abu Ara, a reporter for the London-based Quds Press Information Company, and Motasem Saqf al-Hit, a photographer for the Hamas-affiliated Quds Information Community, had been arrested by Palestinian Preventive Safety officers on 31 December 2018, based on CPJ. Only a few days later, on 5 January, the chief director of the Gaza department of the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, Louay al-Ghoul, was arrested by Hamas and detained for two days. This was then adopted by Palestinian Preventive Safety forces arresting and raiding the house of Yousef al-Faqeeh, a reporter for the London-based Quds Press Information Company, on 16 January. In response to those newest developments, RSF known as on Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority “to not flip journalists into the collateral victims of their rivalry” on 28 January.
In Iran, two labor rights activists had been re-arrested on 20 January after alleging that authorities had tortured them in detention, based on HRW. Sepideh Gholian, who can be a journalist, and Ismael Bakhsi had been re-arrested a day after Iranian state tv broadcasted confessions that they declare they had been pressured to make whereas in detention. Moreover, on 23 January journalist Yashar Soltani was sentenced to 5 years in jail after he reported on corruption in Tehran land offers, based on CPJ.
Libya’s Authorities of Nationwide Accord (GNA) was handed a letter on 10 January by not less than 140 journalists from 20 media retailers urging it to cease the assaults on media freedom and guarantee a protected working atmosphere for journalists, based on the IFJ. As if confirming the urgency of the letter, 35-year-old photographer Mohamed Ben Khalifa was killed whereas protecting clashes between militia teams within the south of the nation’s capital, Tripoli, on 21 January.
In Jordan, two journalists from Jfranews, Shadi al-Zinati and Omar Sabra al-Mahrama, had been arrested on 17 January after Omar Malhas, Jordan’s Finance Minister, filed a criticism towards an article accusing him of tax evasion was revealed on the web site. In response to stories cited by CPJ, the director of the Division of Revenue and Gross sales Tax claimed the Jfranews report was inaccurate.
In Morocco, HRW known as on authorities on 18 January to “instantly abandon makes an attempt to dissolve” Racines, a cultural group, over feedback made by visitors on certainly one of their reveals during which they criticised the King’s speeches and insurance policies.
In Oman, GCHR reported that the authorities are persevering with to arrest bloggers and web activists who assist the Palestinian trigger following Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s go to in October 2018.
In Syria, on 11 January RSF commemorated 5 years since citizen-journalist and activist Amir Hamed was kidnapped by gunmen from his residence in Derbasiyah, in North-Jap Syria.
In Yemen, a cameraman working for Abu Dhabi TV, Ziad al-Sharaabi, was killed in a bomb assault within the port metropolis of Mokha, based on IFJ. Faisal al-Dhahbani, a reporter for a similar community who was additionally current, was wounded.
CPJ expressed issues over a 30 January report by Reuters which claimed that not less than 4 journalists had been surveilled underneath a UAE cybersurveillance and hacking operation named “Challenge Raven” with the complicity of former US Nationwide Safety Company staff.