The New legislation restricts freedom of the press in Egypt

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The Board of Directors of the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) issued a statement confirming its approval of a legislative proposal to add a new article in Chapter Six of the Capital Market Law that includes a ban and criminalization of publishing recommendations and advice related to securities listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange.

The proposed new article includes punishing journalists, in the event of publication, with imprisonment and a fine, or one of these two penalties, in order to deter anyone who publishes in any public way, in the media, social media sites, or websites, news, data, recommendations or information regarding companies whose securities or financial instruments are listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange. Journalists considered the move a hurry to include articles for imprisoning and punishing journalists in publishing cases.

In November, the Egyptian House of Representatives responded to journalists’ comments regarding Article 5 of the draft law on confronting health epidemics and pandemics, which prohibited any freedom-depriving punishment for crimes committed by way of publication or publicity to journalists, while this amendment was met with sharp objections and accusations of unconstitutionality. Two weeks ago, the FSA approved a legislative amendment to the Capital Market Law aimed at prohibiting and criminalizing the publication of recommendations and advice related to securities listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange on social media sites. The amendment added an article stipulating the imposition of penalties of imprisonment and a fine on anyone who publishes, in the media, social media sites, or websites, news, data, recommendations, or information regarding companies whose securities or financial instruments are listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange, or regarding those securities and instruments, without a license.

The amendment included an increase in the penalty, not less than three years and not more than ten years, in the event that the publisher achieves any gains or losses for himself or his first-degree relatives, in order to prevent harm to the stock market or the national economy.

The FSA justified the amendment saying that it aims to deter manipulators who issue and publish misleading recommendations and advice to manipulate small investors and cause them losses. Analysts rejected this amendment, stressing that it contradicts the freedom of dealers to obtain information from sources they deem appropriate and added that there are already penalties in the current law that prohibit misleading investors.