ONTV channel suspended TV anchor Rania Badawi earlier this week, for reasons believed to be related to censorship, after the latter criticised the minister of investment.
The channel’s action violates both international standards of freedom of expression and the Egyptian Constitution, claimed the independent Journalists Against Torture Observatory (JATO), as well as the Labour Law.
In a report issued Monday, JATO said the channel violated Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 48 of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression and opinion and banning censorship on the media.
The channel released a statement confirming Badawi’s dismissal, apologising for “offensive content against a public figure” after stating media ethics and lack of professionalism were the reasons for the decision.
Badawi’s remarks were that minister Dalia Khorshid was “the worst minister in terms of administration”, accusing her of lack of initiative.
In Badawi’s defence, JATO stated: “She did not commit any libel or slander, or contempt of the minister. The above laws have guaranteed the media’s role in criticism. [Badawi] used the word ‘worst,’ which indicate assessment of the minister’s job performance, which should indeed be subject to evaluation.”
The NGO further clarified by saying: “This is called media criticism and ‘worst’ is a word of assessment of performance; it neither contains false information nor violates general ethics.”
Besides the right to freedom of expression, JATO pointed out that the channel also violated Badawi’s other rights guaranteed to her under the Labour Law, citing the channel’s public announcement of her dismissal without respecting legal prior notice periods.
JATO said that Badawi could sue the channel, using articles in the law related to violations committed by the channel when ending her contract.
Badawi hosted a talk show called Kol Youm (Every Day) along with popular host Amr Adib.
Formerly owned by business magnet Naguib Sawiris, ONTV channels were acquired by media business tycoon Ahmed Abou Hashima.