CAIRO: The Arab Journalists Union on Monday called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to put in place regulations and rules that protect journalists especially in conflict zones.
The union was wary of what it described as "the Arab Press entering its last phase of decline" despite the relative revival of the press in some Arab countries.
In a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Daily News Egypt, the union said that the decline of the Arab press is a "result of the restrictions and sanctions that violate freedoms and of Arab governments’ violations against journalists."
The statement that was issued to mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3 and Arab Press Day on May 6 read: “Unfortunately, the state of the Arab Press hasn’t improved much. Arab journalists still suffer from restrictions on freedom of expression. The legal structure that regulates the relationship between the press, the community and the state, is incapable of providing minimal guarantees for the security and freedom of journalists’.”
The statement also cited controversial laws that restrict freedom through harsh penalties for publishing offenses such as imprisonment.
It condemned the “deteriorating Arab situation and lack of minimal guarantees needed to defend the interests of Arab journalists amid a world ruled by a harsh reality, lack of legitimacy, disrespect for international laws and double standards."
The statement called on Ban Ki-moon to instate strict rules to protect journalists in the line of duty, especially at times of war and conflict, referring to the fact that Iraq documented the highest murder and assassination rates of journalists, followed by Somalia.
It stressed that the Union will continue to expose violations against the press in the Arab world and called for an end to laws that violate freedom of opinion and the freedom to publish.