Draft for a Common Arab Press and Publications Law [Archives:2001/30/Law & Diplomacy]

July 23 2001

Freedom of the Press
Article (1)-
Press is a public authority whose independent and free mission ensures freedom of opinion, thought and publication. It also ensures the right to communicate, access to correct information publishing and exchanging it as an inviolable rights. Press contributes a great deal to spread thought, culture, science and promote them.
It is also a means of public monitoring of social institutions by means of expressing opinions, comments and disseminate news within the framework of the constitution and law upholding the basic fundamentals of the society, rights and freedoms of others.
Freedom of opinion and expression is ensured to every citizen who has the right to using all means including speech, writing, photographing, painting, and the like.
Article (2)
Freedom of the Press includes :
1- The right to publish newspapers .
2- Giving citizens a chance to publish their views.
3- The journalists’ right to get information from different sources, analyzing and commenting on them. They have the right to exchange and publish them in accordance with the law without harming the basics of the society , ethics and national security.
4-The journalist right to keep secret his sources of information.
5- The freedom of expressing one’s opinions and thoughts with no restrains except for what is related to the ethics, fundamentals, and national security of the society in accordance with the law.
Article (3)
Advanced and subsequent monitoring on press is prohibited as it is also prohibited to confiscate newspapers by means of administration, closing them down, hinder their activities or canceling them without a final judicial verdict and in circumstances indicated by the law.
Foreign newspapers should not be blocked from access to the circulation inside the country except when they include materials impinging on the national security or the law and other social ethics. Prohibition decree should be issued by the concerned minister, who should refer the subject to the judicial authorities to endorse or call it off within 24 hours. The court should issue its verdict during the hearing session. The minister’s decree of prohibition is of no force if not referred to the emergency judicial authorities within the period mentioned above or in case the judiciary authorities pass a verdict to call it off.
Owning and Publishing Newspapers:
Article (4)
Publication and owning newspapers is ensured to ordinary native persons, social dignitaries, and those enjoying any of the Arab naturalizations.
Article No. (5)
He who desires to issue a newspaper should notify the competent administrative authority in writing, which should reply either with acceptance or refusal within thirty (30) days of receiving the notification. Otherwise, the application is approved. If the authority concerned refused the application, the owner should be notified in writing. It has also to file a case in the specialized court, confirming the refusal of the newspaper publication within 30 days following notification letter. Blocking publication of the newspaper is not valid until a final judiciary verdict is passed. Moreover, the executive bylaw of this law defines conditions of notifications.
Article No. (6)
Neither the government nor any social dignitaries have the right to own more than quarter of the capital of any newspaper except for the technical and specialized scientific bulletins.
Journalists Rights:
Article No. (7)
Journalists are supreme in their career except for the law and ethics of their career.
Article No. (8)
It is prohibited to disturb the security of journalist while pursuing his career. Security of journalists is violated in the following cases:
— Exposing the journalist to any kind of pressure or intimidation by any source to influence him.
— Arresting the journalist in the Pending Investigation Offices, detaining, arresting or taking away his freedom due to pursuing his career.
— Banning the journalist from pursuing his activities, writing or publication with no legal warrant, provided not violating the chief editor’s authority to define the appropriate time for publication in accordance with the principles of the mission.
— Transferring the to another job whether inside or outside the newspaper which he works for, transferring him to another press post less in moral and financial rank, or transferring him to another newspaper unless he agrees to this in writing.
— Depriving, with no legal warrant, the journalist of any financial privilege due him allowances, promotion and bonus are included.
Article No. (9)
No journalist should be subject to the disciplinary issue due to pursuing his activities lest he violates the law and principles of the mission and its ethics stipulated in the code of conduct. Only the Journalists Syndicate has the right to hold him accountable in his career.
Article No. (10)
The journalist has the right to obtain and publish information, data and statistics from any governmental or public body. As he has the right to view all the official documents, and to receive answers to his inquires from authorities concerned.
There should be no restrictions on circulating information or in a way that violates equal opportunities among newspapers and media establishments to have access to information, except for issues affecting the defense of the state and protection of national security.
He who is found violating the journalist right to have access to information is fined as he has to compensate the journalist and others due for the damage incurred because of blocking information.
Article No. (11)
Within the framework of pursuing his activities as a journalist, he has the right to attend general meetings, courts sessions, parliamentary, local and unions, clubs and associations, general Assemblies meetings, unless these sessions are closed or secret according to laws and bylaws. He who violates this right is fined, besides his civic responsibility in case of outcomes.
Article No. (13)
Conscience conditions:
The journalist has the right to terminate his contract with the newspaper by his own, with no notice or warning as he has the right to get the proper compensation in case of radical change in the policy of the newspaper which goes in contradiction with his beliefs, consequently changing the circumstances on which the contract was signed.
Article No. (13)
Every newspaper has a chief editor who really supervises of items published. There should also be some editors each of whom supervise a department of the newspaper. The chief editor and editors should be registered as members of the Journalist Syndicate and clear of any moral or ethic crimes.
Chief editors and editors of non-periodical bulletins and specialized technical newspapers issued by scientific institutions and other bodies indicated by the syndicate are excluded from the syndicate membership.
To be continued next week