Friday, June 27, 2008

Using the courts to censor in Egypt--Alaa Abdel

The Kenyan courts may not know what is blogging and how it relates to defamation but Egypt has a different story.

They do not filter the internet using firewalls but they torture blogs and use the courts to jail. They create an atmosphere of fear, beat you up so that you can reveal your facebook, blogger or you tube account. covers torture in Egypt and tags the posts with the names of the police officers, and raises the stakes. When you go to court, the evidence is there, which means the same courts will also be used to block the blogger.

A lady blogger had to lose her job, after efforts from her family to stop her from blogging failed. She stood up to her father, which meant she lost a place to stay. Now she works at a radical newspaper/site.

Libel laws in Egypt were designed to protect the system, its criminal and the onus is on the blogger to prove.
for instance, a blogger blogs about a company dumping waste into a public water space. was blogging about the environmental effects and was sued for libel.
The laws require the blogger to prove the company is emptying waste into the lake, if you prove 3 out of 4 allegations, you still go to jail for failing to prove one allegation.

In other jurisdictions, the onus would have been on the company to prove that its not emptying waste to the lake. The company would have to prove its clean.

The upshot- use of fear and courts to silence bloggers.

But are bloggers above the law. Should they be supported whether they make mistakes or not? Food for thought......