The Legal Enabling Environment for Independent Media

September 01, 2015
02:00 pm - 03:30 pm


Enrique Armijo, Covington & Burling, LLP
Jamal Dajani, Internews Network
Amy Hawthorne, U.S. Department of State
Drusilla Menaker, International Research & Exchanges Board
Toby Mendel, Centre for Law and Democracy
Joan Barata Mir, Universitat Ramon Llull
Natasha Tynes, International Center for Journalists

Moderated by
Stephen Fuzesi, Jr., CIMA Advisory Council

Download the full Report: 

Legal Enabling Environment for Independent Media in Egypt and Tunisia

About the Event

More than 70 people attended a roundtable discussion co-hosted by CIMA and Internews Network on media law in Egypt and Tunisia after the Arab Spring. The discussion explored how media assistance stakeholders are analyzing how reforms will affect the legal enabling environment for independent media as the two countries prepare for elections in the fall.

A recent report by the Center for International Media Assistance, Media and the Law: An Overview of Legal Issues and Challenges, finds that the legal conditions under which news media operate are crucial factors to the sector’s success. A liberal and empowering legal regime can enable the growth of media and allow them to fulfill their function as watchdog of democratic society without fear of legal sanction, thus helping to make governments more accountable. The attendees discussed, among other topics, the following questions:

  • What current laws, regulations, and practices affect journalists in Egypt and Tunisia?
  • What legislation is being drafted to replace or supplement them, and how will it have an impact on independent media?
  • How can local civil society organizations, donors, implementers, and policymakers use this transition to negotiate meaningful change in the legal enabling environment?

About the Speakers

Enrique Armijo is an associate at Covington & Burling, LLP in Washington, DC, where he practices media and appellate law. As part of Covington’s pro bono international freedom of expression practice, he has advised the governments of Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, and Rwanda on proposed amendments to their media and access to information laws, and has provided assessments of public broadcasting statutes for developing democracies in Asia and the Middle East. Prior to joining the firm, Armijo was at the Programme for Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, working on international media law projects and conducting comparative research on media ownership regulation in the United States and Europe.

Jamal Dajani is vice president of Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean at Internews Network. Before joining Internews, Dajani was vice president of International News at Link TV, and served as a consultant for PBS Frontline World. In 2004, Dajani won the prestigious Peabody Award for his production of Mosaic: World News from the Middle East. A frequent guest on national and international media broadcast networks and a regular blogger for the Huffington Post, he has written widely on the Middle East, including The Arab Media Revolution. Dajani is a board member of New America Media, the largest collaboration of ethnic news organizations in the United States. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University.

Amy Hawthorne joined the Department of State as senior advisor in the Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, in January 2011, where she advises on democracy promotion programs and policies in the region. Previously, Hawthorne was the founding executive director of the Hollings Center for International Dialogue, which operates in Washington and Istanbul to promote dialogue between citizens of the United States and Muslim-majority countries. She was an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she was the founding editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin and wrote about Arab politics and democratization. Prior to that, she was senior program officer for the Middle East at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, where she led numerous programs to develop democracy in the region, and served as a consultant to many democracy promotion organizations. Hawthorne has spent extensive time in the Arab world and Turkey, and speaks Arabic. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and was a Fulbright Scholar at Al Azhar University in Cairo. Hawthorne was an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar and has published widely on democratization and democracy promotion in the Middle East.

Drusilla Menaker is a senior media advisor at the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). She develops media strengthening programs in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Eurasia and provides expertise on program management, capacity building, advocacy efforts, and integration of media into civil society and education initiatives. Menaker is also a founder and associate director of IREX Europe, IREX’s partner organization based in Lyon, France. She joined IREX in 2001 as chief of party for an independent print media program in Russia funded by USAID. Before joining IREX, Menaker was a foreign correspondent working across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and a reporter, editor, and bureau chief for the Associated Press in the United States. She earned a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Toby Mendel is the author of Political and Media Transitions in Egypt: A Snapshot of the Media Policy and Regulatory Environment, a new report on media law in Egypt as part of a regional assessment by Internews. He is the founder and executive director of the Centre for Law and Democracy. Mendel was senior director for law at Article 19, a human rights organization focusing on freedom of expression and the right to information. He has provided expertise on these rights to the World Bank, intergovernmental bodies, and numerous governments and non-governmental organizations around the world. In these roles, he has often helped draft legislation in the areas of the right to information and media regulation. Before joining Article 19, he worked as a senior human rights consultant with Oxfam Canada and as a human rights policy analyst at the Canadian International Development Agency. He has published extensively on a range of freedom of expression, right to information, communication rights, and refugee issues, including comparative legal and analytical studies on public service broadcasting, the right to information, and broadcast policy. Mendel earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from McGill University and a bachelor’s degree in law from Dalhousie University.

Joan Barata Mir is the author of Political and Media Transitions in Tunisia: A Snapshot of the Media Policy and Regulatory Environment, a new report on media law in Tunisia as part of a regional assessment by Internews. He is the vice dean for international relations at the Blanquerna Communications School at the Universitat Ramon Llull in Barcelona and associate professor at the Law Department of the Open University of Catalonia. He has been a visiting research scholar at the University of Bologna and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. Previously, he was head of the president’s cabinet and secretary general for the Catalonia Audiovisual Council. He earned his doctorate at the University of Barcelona, writing a thesis on television and public service theory. His recent academic writings cover democracy and the media. His research interests are public services, regulation, media law, telecommunications law, privacy law, the Internet, and e-government.

Natasha Tynes is the program director at the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), where she is responsible for developing and managing ICFJ’s Middle East programs, including online journalism and blogging. She has worked as a reporter in the Middle East for more than a decade. She is a former reporter and editor for al-Jazeera, the Jordan Times, and Arabia Online. She has a master’s degree in international journalism from London’s City University and a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Jordan. She is a native Arabic speaker and is fluent in English and proficient in Spanish.

About the Moderator

Stephen Fuzesi, Jr. has held leadership roles in, and been outside legal counsel and advisor to, international entities in the communications and news media, banking and finance sectors. Most recently, he served as vice president, chief counsel, and secretary of Newsweek, Inc. from 1994-2010. He was instrumental in the launch of Newsweek licensed editions through global strategic alliances in Arabic, Chinese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and most recently in English in Pakistan. Prior to Newsweek, Fuzesi was with White & Case, where he established the international law firm’s Budapest office in 1991, focusing on reforms in the telecom, finance, and securities sectors in the region. He is a member of CIMA’s Advisory Council and on the Board of Directors of Words without Borders. Fuzesi received a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he served as an editor of the Law Review.