Press Law Delayed
The Government, represented by the Ministry of Information, presented
amendments to the Press and Publication law a few months ago. At
the same time the appointed Consultative Council suggested other
amendments for the Parliament to look at before the law is finally
There is an agreement among elected MPs and the executive authority
on the need for a modern law which expands the margin of freedom
and lifts restrictions on journalists. Also there is an agreement
between MPs that the Consultative Council’s suggestions are closer
to achieving these freedoms than governmental amendments. A third
opinion sees the necessity of combining the two projects, but until
now the Parliament has not ended its discussion in this regard due
to the accumulation of its work. The delay has caused a media outcry.
There are almost 13 articles of the law awaiting deletion as
they are regarded as unfair and obstructive to the journalistic
activities including articles related to sanctions imposed on journalists.
MPs are of the view of referring press offenses to civil courts
rather than criminal courts.
Media people and representatives expressed their opinion about
the law to MPs. In addition to their objection to sanctions they
welcomed the Consultative Council’s draft as the basis for the expected
amendments and saw it closer to their views and aspirations. They
also called for the amendment of Article 4, which relates to granting
licenses, and that there should be a clear list of prohibitions
instead of leaving decisions to the judgment or mood of the officials.
They also criticized the strict licensing procedures and described
them as unjustifiable, particularly those related to the publication
of a daily newspaper. With regard to the organization of electronic
journalism, the Ministry of Culture and Information believe it should
have the authority to issue regulatory resolutions, while MPs and
journalists believe that the decision to block internet sites should
be in the hands of the court