CJFE HOSTS ENEMIES OF THE PRESS TOUR '99
Kassem, publisher of Cairo Times? and a member of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) Board of Directors, described how freedom of the press exists in Egyptian law but not in practice. He discussed a number of measures used by the Egyptian government to control the press.Kassem explained that independent media groups are forced to register as ?off-shore? or foreign publications, and that under this category, they must submit all work to government review. Kassem stated, ?The rest of the world can know about an event, but we cannot publish it.? Seventy journalists are currently standing trial in Egypt on charges of libel. He noted that while violations inEgypt were not at the level of some other African countries, a ?culture of fear? prevails within civil society which greatly impedes peoples? ability to speak out.
Tam-Baryoh, who is now working in Ghana for the Media Foundation for West Africa, was arrested in October 1997 and falsely charged with aggravated assault and subversion. Even in the wake of a peace accord that was signed 7 July, he stated that journalists in Sierra Leone continue to be targeted by both the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels and the government. Tam-Baryoh asserted that?Canada must use human rights as conditions for foreign aid. The government listens more to foreign pressures than a local editorial.? Tam-Baryoh pointed to the example of the Independent Media Commission Bill, a bill which would greatly restrict press freedom, which he claimed has been put on hold because of international pressure.
Mutinga, president of the non-governmental organisation, Media for Peace, and editor of ?Le Potential,? has been detained on multiple occasions for his work. Most recently, he was detained and his travel documents were seized at the Kinshasa Airport as he attempted to travel to the United Kingdom and then Canada for the Tour. When officials finally permitted him to leave the country, Mutinga stated that it was due to the international pressures placed on the government by the members of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) community. Mutinga alsoagreed with the other panelists that international pressure has been of critical import to journalists throughout the world. Mutinga stated that under the current regime, journalists continue to be forcedto violate journalistic ethics and exercise self-censorship. In this regard, he called for aid in providing journalistic training. He also called for international media to expand its coverage on African nations,stating that ?the fate of Africa depends on international attention.?