According to Reuters “Three Al Jazeera journalists were jailed for seven years in Egypt on Monday after a court convicted them of helping a “terrorist organisation” by spreading lies, in a case that has raised questions about the country’s respect for media freedoms.
The three, who all deny the charges, include Australian Peter Greste, Al Jazeera’s Kenya-based correspondent, and Canadian-Egyptian national Mohamed Fahmy, Cairo bureau chief of Al Jazeera English. The third defendant, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, received an additional three-year jail sentence on a separate charge involving possession of ammunition.”
Egypt which has been going through a series of changes in the leadership since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, has not been stable in the least. From sentencing hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members to death to the incarceration of countless protesters, Egypt continues to go down the drain. But the final straw that broke the camel’s back, is of course the sentencing of these innocent journalists. Since Sisi became president, the country has literally been going through this type of problems, most of them relating to press freedom matters. One of the journalist was only released after a long time in a hunger strike.
Sisi must be reminded that press freedom is a cardinal pillar in the democratic process of any nation. The amount of freedom accorded to the media is in direct proportion to the maturity and fullness of good governance and democracy in a said state. However, around the world, not Egypt alone, especially the developing countries, if we are to judge by this criterion then we will quickly dismiss almost all of them as undemocratic and totalitarian; for many of them either have very cruel and draconian laws targeted at the media or simply swamp them down with might and force.
The achievement of freedom of speech — which is a fundamental human right — cannot be a reality without the freedom of the press and by extension the free flow of information from the state and the people at large. Freedom of speech is a major constitutional requirement for the actualization of the fundamental rights of the people. But it will be next to impossible to achieve or actualise when the media and the press remain in the muddle and are not fully free to pursue its rightful role in society: being the voice for the masses especially the voiceless and marginalised.
In a world that is increasingly becoming intolerant, it becomes ever more prudent to engage in the diversification of the dialogue process, and this is not possible without a vibrant media which is active and participatory in the democratic process. In a nutshell a free press serves as an instrument in making a peaceful society which is tolerant and coexist harmoniously a possibility. So in undermining the necessity of a free press which is the focal point of the much cherished freedom of expression, we are in fact making it difficult to make democracy, transparency and accountability a dream that can be fulfilled.
So we condemn strongly the sentences that were handed down by the government of Egypt and we hope that they’ll be acquitted from this dubious charges and that Egypt will work towards harmoniously bringing back democracy in its fullness.]]>