December 24, 2015 Print

Freedom of speech and conscience are fundamental components of individual liberty, and Atlas Network partner the Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies (ECPPS) is working to protect those rights with a new initiative that will train 81 lawyers how to advocate on behalf of “journalists and bloggers who face violations during covering events, or oppressions due to their political views.” Titled “Egyptian Lawyers' Network for Defending Journalist and Bloggers,” the project will spread legal resources throughout all of the country’s governorate jurisdictions.

“In each fight for individual freedom, freedom-fighting lawyers have been there to stand with victims and to support a bigger space for freedom of speech,” said Mahmoud Farouk, ECPPS executive director. “The role of ECPPS is to find those lawyers and network all of them together and support them with ideas, knowledge and skills to increase the freedom of speech in my country.”

Farouk said that the lawyers’ network will provide free legal aid, along with advocating for legal reform in the next parliament, as well as engaging in national and international outreach through publishing a monthly report on freedom of the press in Egypt.

“Our goal for next year is to move Egypt’s ranking in the freedom of the press report at least five points,” Farouk said. “ECPPS is doing this with your support, so keep supporting us for better freedom of speech in Egypt.”

ECPPS also recently signed on to Amnesty International’s signature campaign calling for the release of photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known in his work as Shawkan.

“The Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies expresses their strong opposition to the arbitrary imprisonment, and the humanitarian and legal injustice suffered by Shawkan,” ECPPS wrote in a news release. “The arrest of journalists is a clear violation from the Egyptian authorities to the Egyptian constitution, as well as international human right conventions, which secure the right to freedom of expression and press, as well as to seek and receive information and ideas and transfer them to others via any medium and regardless of all boundaries.”