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Last Updated: Monday, 23 February, 2004, 23:55 GMT
Egypt scraps law on journalists
President Hosni Mubarak
The move to stop jailing journalists comes as Western allies step up calls for democratic reforms
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has said he would scrap a law allowing journalists to be imprisoned.

The head of the journalists' union, Galal Aref, said the president told him of his decision in a telephone call.

Mr Aref told delegates at the annual meeting of journalists in Cairo that they would no longer face prison for anything they publish.

The 1996 press law allows for the jailing of journalists for libel, insults or defamation.

I reaffirm my constant commitment in favour of the freedom of the press, of its independence and the non-interference of its affairs
Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian president
Several journalists in Egypt have been imprisoned over the past few years.

Journalists have been campaigning for such a move to protect freedom of expression.

Mr Aref said a proposed law would be put to the National Assembly later this week.

Press freedom supported

In a speech to the delegates, read by the Information Minister, the Egyptian president reiterated his support of press freedom but also criticised foreign pressure for reforms in the Middle East.

"I reaffirm my constant commitment in favour of the freedom of the press, of its independence and the non-interference of its affairs."

In the speech Mr Mubarak also spoke against what he said were certain type of reforms trying to be imposed by the Western powers without consultation.

Mr Mubarak's remarks on reforms comes as Egypt - along with other Arab countries - comes under increasing pressure from the United States to make reforms that will improve their human rights records.




SEE ALSO:
Egypt presses militants for truce
04 Dec 03  |  Middle East
Egypt's film pioneer dies aged 90
26 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Country Profile: Egypt
03 Jan 04  |  Country profiles


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