Egypt, transparency and rights: “MY RIGHT TO KNOW” Campaign

egyptThree years after the revolutionary movement which called a halt to the past regime, the situation of Egyptian media achieved great success on several fronts. Above all, the issue of liberalization of media became more popular among all the layers of society. Nevertheless Egyptian civil society and media remain under pressure. The experience of democratic transitions in other countries shows that media are a key factor in any process of transformation, in especially independent media which plays a role in shaping public opinion and giving a voice to the voiceless.

All over the world, the tension between national security and freedom of expression and information is multifaceted. Without national security, basic human rights are always at risk. On the other hand, governments often use security as a reason for excessive restrictions on freedom of expression and information, as well as other fundamental rights. A proper balance between secrecy and liberty requires a vigilant press and an independent judiciary.

The Egyptian government already launched new bills for the right of information, but they still lack the mechanisms to be applied. It is worth mentioning that the right of access to information has already been approved by Article 47 of the Constitution of 2012 and by article 68 of the new Constitution voted in 2013, which affirms that information and data, statistics and official documents belong to the people. This right should be guaranteed by the state for every citizen, and the state is committed to provide and make them available to citizens with transparency. And transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability.

Moreover, it should be noted the presence of another substantial article in the Constitution of 2013, Article 92, which states that the rights and freedoms inherent to the persons do not accept any derogation. Any restrictions to those rights should correspond to exceptional situations, but they should not affect the essence of the rights Freedom of expression in all its forms (written, audiovisual or on line) may also refer to the right to privacy in the context of the information technologies. Media should not be used to promote hate speech, violence, discrimination and degradation of human Despite Constitutional articles, and despite previous campaigns and coalitions promoting freedom of expression and transparency, the Egyptian society is still deprived from owning a full independent media sector and from a transparent access to information

Having regards to the promotion of participatory democracy, participatory decision making processes and development within Egyptian society, with the aim to fight corruption and promote good governance and pluralism, and considering that enabling people to access their personal information represents an important part of the basic respect for human dignity, the objectives of the “Right to Know” campaign are:

1. To achieve a full availability and transparency of the official sources of information, in especially related to the Egyptian public budget, National statistics and the decision making process within the government.

2. To promote freedom of expression in all its forms through all the legislative and regulatory tools, in order to provide access to all means of information to citizens, whether written, audio visual and/or online.

In order to achieve its goals, the Campaign will:

1. Network among Media outlets, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and support previous campaigns and coalitions promoting Media Freedom.

2. Raise awareness and put in place lobbying activities about the campaign’s targets on the local, national, official, public, regional and international levels.

3. Use the different communication tools such as audio visual materials, posters, documentary films, booklets…etc.

4. Hold meetings and interviews with decision makers on local and national levels.

5. Submitting law proposals and recommendations for policy makers and the legislative authority.

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