Human Rights Organizations Condemn Arab Restrictions on Satellite Transmission
Human Rights Organizations Condemn Arab Restrictions on Satellite Transmission
Wednesday, March 5,2008 08:05
34 International and Arabian Human Rights organizations confirmed their total rejection of the document of "organizing space & radio broadcasting" which was declared by Arab ministers of information on February 12, 2008. Human rights organizations said that the suggested document which contains 12 articles, is full of ambiguous statements that impose new restrictions on freedom of expression on the Arab space channels and it is worthless without the affirmation of the Arabian parliaments.
Despite the document"s first claim that aims to "organize, broadcasting and rebroadcasting, as well as receiving broadcasts in the Arab region, pay respect to freedom of expression, spread culture, and activate the cultural role through the space transmission", we find that some articles are contain statements that correspond to the same charges targeting opponents of the Arab governments who criticize their policies such as "the negative impact upon social peace, national unity, public order & politeness, protecting high interests of the Arab countries and respecting the principle of national sovereignty of each country over its own land".
Human rights organizations who advocate freedom of expression stated that "the document articles aim in the first place to restrict documentary and dialogue programs which highlight and expose repressive exercises and corruption cases widespread all over the Arab world via governments that obtained access to the throne through non-democratic ways without their communities consent.
This document imposed open changes subject to governmental justification such as criticizing religious and political leaders described in the document as "not discrediting national leaders & religious icons". The document neither defined the borderlines between criticism and discrediting nor clarified clearly the standards to determine those icons. This consequently would result in targeting serious media program makers and opening the door for governments to practice control & repression against freedom of expression which violates the rights stated by international constitutions and charters.
The document obliged television and broadcasting transmission corporations to subject their program contents to a committee in charge of censorship, to impose a time table for the programs and protect children from inappropriate media materials. This would allow the censorship authority to interfere into the content of programs transmitted that governments don"t like.
The undersigned human rights organizations assure that overstepping articles are included in the document against freedom of publication & transmission as part of freedom of expression. Additionally we find that it overstepped the legitimate road to enact any document or agreement in order to make it mandatory, as the parliaments and legislative authorities must consent to them first according to what is stated in the constitution in regards to the deal with any international agreement.
The governmental claim that it is just “a document of principles” as a justification, denies the possibility of taking any legal procedures against any space channel which practices their right to broadcast news and information in a way that corresponds to their own strategy .
This contradicts with what is included in the document imposing certain punishments which could result in confiscating sets & equipments and license seizure of channels – opposing governments perspectives. This of course violates the legal rule that "no punishment without a legal act".
Regarding this issue, the undersigned human rights organizations declare they will take the lead in supporting the wide rejectionist movement against this document, acknowledging the right of media corporations to have their work done with no restrictions or censorship and standing by the citizens right to have serious programs that reveal corruption and unmask daily violations that citizens suffer from on a daily basis.
The undersigned organizations:
1. The Arabic network for human rights information
2. Arab Program for Human Rights Activists, Egypt
3. Palestinian Human Rights Foundation (Monitor), Lebanon
4. Egyptian Association for the Support of the Democratic Development, Egypt
5. Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, Egypt
6. Egyptian Association for Economic & Social Rights, Egypt
7. Social Democratic Party , Egypt
8. The Coordinating Committee for the Trade Union and Worker Rights & Liberties , Egypt
9. Syrian Human Rights Committee , Syria
10. The Egyptian Observatory for Justice & Law , Egypt
11. The Egyptian Center for Housing Rights, Egypt
12. National Center fr Human Rights, Egypt
13. Egyptian Democratic Institute, Egypt
14. Arabic Foundation for Support of Civil Society & Human Rights , Egypt
15. National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms, Yemen
16. Developing Democracy Group, Egypt
17. Bahraini Human Rights Society , Bahrain
18. Egyptian Awn human rights association, Egypt
19. Human Rights First Saudi, Saudi Arabia
20. Bahrain youth society for human rights, Bahrain
21. Justice Watch Association, Somalia
22. The legal assistance of human rights group, Egypt
23. The Land Center for Human Rights, Egypt
24. Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Egypt
25. Freedom center for political rights and democracy support, Egypt
26. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Egypt
27. Nadeem Center for Psychological Therapy and Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence, Egypt
28. Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies, Egypt
29. Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies, Syria
30. Habi Center for Environmental Rights, Egypt
31. Maat for juridical & Constitutional Studies, Egypt
32. Hisham Mubarak law center, Egypt
33. Forum for Development & Human Rights Dialogue , Egypt
34. Association for Freedom of Thought & Expression , Egypt