Cairo: 3 May 2020
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, which marks today, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) announces the release of its annual report on the state of freedom of expression and freedom of the press in the Arab world during 2019. The report provides a clear picture of the deteriorating situation of freedom of expression in the entire Arab region, which is reflected in: the ongoing detention of dissidents over publishing-related cases, the escalating defamation and smear campaigns against opinion holders while barring them from working, and the physical assaults against critics and opponents.
The report, entitled “Pleases Neither Friend Nor Foe… The State of Freedom of Expression in the Arab World 2019“, cites examples of the violations witnessed by 12 Arab countries (Jordan, Bahrain, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt), as an example of the overall situation of freedom of expression in the entire Arab world.
The report points out that most Arab governments are not only keeping tight control of traditional media, but they are also prosecuting users of the Internet, which has nearly become the only outlet for independent journalists- most of them are being deprived of their work- along with opinion holders especially the youth. The term “prisoners of conscience” has become commonplace in all Arab countries, which are governed by regimes that each of them claims to have respected freedom of expression, albeit according to its own view. These governments allow only for expressing views that extol the glory of the ruler, whether he is a president, king, Emir (prince) or Sultan, even if these views don’t involve any criticism or different opinion.
Opinion holders in the Arab world are only allowed for boosting the majesty, power, sophistication, and integrity of these rulers. But when it comes to criticism, the mere criticism, critics will be subjected to manifold forms of punishment; imprisonment may be the least severe violation, as the other common violations may include: physical assault, kidnapping, murdering, barring from working and defamation and smear campaigns that are not bound by any limits.
Therefore, ANHRI didn’t find any words to describe the state of freedom of expression and freedom of the press under the reign of those great and wise rulers, monarchs, kings, emirs and sultans except to say that: the situation pleases neither friend nor foe.
You can check the report through the following link: