The Egyptian Center denounces BBC’s investigation with six journalists working at Cairo and Beirut offices, together with suspending them from work over backing Palestine
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The Egyptian Center denounces BBC’s investigation with six journalists working at Cairo and Beirut offices, together with suspending them from work over backing Palestine

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) condemns the decision of BBC to launch urgent probe into Arab journalists working for its Arabic service in its offices in Cairo and Beirut, together with suspending one freelancer over their biased activity for Palestine on social media.

The list of journalists who are under investigation includes: Mahmoud Sheleib, Sally Nabil, and Salma Al Khattab, who are the members of the Committee representing BBC’s staff in Cairo Office to negotiate with the management in the salaries increase crisis that lasted for months. In addition to Amr fekry who is a journalist in the sports department of the Cairo office. Moreover, the management had ended cooperation with the freelance journalist Aya Hossam . The list included two Lebanese journalists, Sanaa Al Khoury and Nada Abdel Samad. The Center knew that BBC’s management had suspended BBC Cairo journalists temporarily from work untill investigations will be completed.

A BBC spokesman told that “ we are urgently investigating this matter, and we take allegations of breaches of editorial and social media guidelines with the utmost seriousness, and if we found breaches, we will act, including taking disciplinary action”. That comes based on an investigation from the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) alleging the biased activity of the aforementioned journalists against Israel.

The Egyptian Center expresses its concerns that BBC’s management in Cairo, in particular, will use this measure as an attempt to take the revenge against a number of its journalists due to their union activity to defend the financial rights of their colleagues in light of discriminatory policies of the British Broadcasting Corporation ( BBC) regarding their salaries compared to their colleagues working in other countries.

This action violates Article No.19 which stipulates that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

Article No.120 of the Egyptian Labor Law protects those subject to it from any targeting based on several aspects, most notably political opinion, as well as exercising the capacity of a worker representative or having previously exercised this capacity.

It is noteworthy that BBC Cairo Office had previously witnessed three strikes carried out by the Egyptian journalists in Cairo regarding their demands for equality in wages with their colleagues, before the crisis ended recently after a series of negotiations concluded last September 18 by the Chairman of the Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate Khaled El Balshy,  with the Global Service Management of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which has reached a consensual agreement regarding the wages of journalists and workers in Cairo BBC’s office.

The Egyptian Center expressed its support to the legitimate protest of the Egyptian staff at the BBC’s Cairo office, affirming its readiness to provide all ways of legal support to them at any time, stressing the necessity to stop arbitrary and discriminatory measures against them, in addition to achieving the principles of justice, moral and financial equality for them as they are considered basic rights that are not subjected to bargaining or negotiation.

In the agreement, the BBC Administration had pledged to review its “volatile markets” policy, which addresses economic downturns in countries where the BBC operates. The review is expected to be completed by December 2023. However, it will be applied retroactively to BBC Cairo employees starting in September 2023.

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