In response to remarks of the State Council and Press Syndicate, Egypt’s Parliament, headed by Speaker Ali Abdul Aal, approved some amendments to the press and media law, during a plenary session on Sunday.
Several articles of those that have caused controversy were amended, during the discussion, as well as adding new articles to the law.
Abdul Aal said that he had read the remarks of the State Council over the law, saying the law did not affect the substance of the law, or the basic texts of it.
The head of the parliament’s media and culture committee, Osama Heikal, said the amendment was made after an agreement with the Press Syndicate and some journalists.
Article 29, which was believed to return per-trial detention against journalists, is amended to be consistent with constitutional Article 71, which stipulates that no sanctions may be imposed against freedoms.
Regarding detention, the parliament rejected a request by an MP that no financial bail could be imposed to release the journalist, but Abdul Aal rejected, saying that these are powers for the prosecution to take precautionary measures that cannot be restricted.
Abdul Aal also said that the parliament avoids any arguments that might accuse the law of being unconstitutional with regards to prohibiting the application of per-trial detention for journalists only, not all citizens.
As for Article 12, it has been amended to allow permits only in places where photography is prohibited, after it was stipulating that journalists should get permission from the Supreme Media Council before attending conferences and public meetings, conduct interviews with citizens, and take photographs in public areas, where photography is not prohibited.
Article 43 is amended from requiring every newspaper to have its journalists registered with the Press Syndicate, which should not be less than 70% from the actual work capacity.
Regarding the new additions made to the law in Article 60, a new part is added to allow the creation or operation of media outlets or websites shall be submitted to the Supreme Media Council. The council shall decide on the application within a period not exceeding 90 days from the date of submission of the application, for a fee not exceeding EGP 250,000 for a media outlet and EGP 50,000 for a website.
Prior to the session of amendments, Abdul Aal met with the head of the Press Syndicate to discuss some articles of the law contained in the memorandum submitted by the syndicate to the parliament.