25 February 1998


Prison sentence for journalists Magdi Hussein and Mohammed Hilal

Incident details

Magdi Hussein, Mohammed Hilal


legal action

(EOHR/IFEX) - EOHR is deeply concerned by news of the ruling issued by the
Boulaq Court of Appeals for Misdemeanors on 24 February 1998, against
journalist Magdi Ahmed Hussein, editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper
"Al-Shaab", and Mohammed Hilal, journalist for the same newspaper. The
journalists were accused of two misdemeanors suits of libel and slander by
Alaa El-Alfi, son of former Interior Minister Hassan El-Alfi, in connection
with stories published in "Al-Shaab." The two misdemeanors were merged on
appeal due to their similar nature. Both journalists have been sentenced to
one year's imprisonment and a provisional compensation of LE 501.

**New case and updates IFEX alerts dated 25 October 1995, 30 January 1996,
9, 24, 29 May 1996 and 7 June 1996**

According to EOHR, the ruling opens the door to the implementation of
another one-year prison sentence against Hussein and Hilal. On 28 May 1996,
the same court sentenced both journalists to one year in prison with a
three-year stay of execution. According to articles 56 and 57 of the Penal
Code, the court which ordered the stay of execution has the right to revoke
it upon a request by the public prosecutor if the person sentenced is
subsequently sentenced to more than one-month imprisonment during the period
of the stay of execution.

EOHR reaffirms its full respect for the judicial rulings while at the same
time condemning, in principle, the issuance of any sentence restricting the
freedom of journalists in connection with opinion and publication offenses.
Freedom of opinion and expression must be maintained as one of the major
pillars of a democratic society. Full respect for private life can be
realized by imposing fines while maintaining the claimant's right to bring
a civil lawsuit, however imprisonment is an oppressive means used to
intimidate journalists and hinder their work.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • appealing to them to amend the legislative structure governing journalism
    in Egypt by repealing the use of prison sentences against journalists

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
    President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
    Oruba Palace
    Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt
    Fax: +202 260 5417 / 355 5700

    Farouk Seif al-Naser
    Minister of Justice
    Lazoghly Square
    Mounira, Cairo, Egypt
    Fax: +202 355 5700

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
    8/10 Mathaf El Manial St
    Manial El Roda
    Cairo, Egypt
    eohr (@) eohr.org
    Fax:+ 20 22 3621613
    More from Egypt