Harassment and intimidation of journalists in Egypt unacceptableListen /
The United Nations has expressed concern over accusations of involvement in terrorism levelled against journalists in Egypt.
The UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay said the accusations amount to intimidation and harassment of the media which was an affront to the enjoyment of the freedom of expression and opinion in the country.
She also termed as vague charges of aiding a terrorist group and harming national interests levelled against 16 local and 4 foreign journalists working for the international broadcaster Al Jazeera.
Rupert Colville is the spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office.
"These are people carrying camera not guns. Cameras seek to illuminate what is happening not silence information. Its extra ordinary to find this being put into the kind of terrorist dialogue that journalists are supporting terrorism. This is an alarming development and we hope it changes very quickly. We have also received numerous reports of intimidation of journalists, who have had their equipment seized, and in some cases of local journalists who have been sacked for reporting on sensitive issues. There are also reports of journalists in detention being subjected to ill-treatment or being held in conditions that are not in line with international human rights standards. We urge the Egyptian authorities to promptly release all journalists imprisoned for carrying out legitimate news reporting activities in exercise of their fundamental human rights. It is the State's obligation to ensure that the right to freedom of expression is respected, and that journalists are able to report on diverse views and issues surrounding the current situation in Egypt."
The UN Human Rights office says all reports of violence against journalists must be independently and transparently investigated.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.