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Egypt

    May 30, 2017

    A new law signed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, imposing unprecedentedly harsh restrictions on NGOs, could be a death sentence for human rights groups in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “This is a catastrophic blow for human rights groups working in Egypt. The severity of the restrictions imposed by this law threatens to annihilate NGOs in the country, at a time when the authorities’ escalating crackdown on dissent makes their work more important than ever, said Najia Bounaim, Campaigns Director for North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “This law, which gives the government extraordinary powers to control NGOs and imposes harsh punishments and fines for any violation of its draconian provisions, is the latest ploy by the Egyptian authorities to silence all independent voices.”

    May 24, 2017

    The Egyptian authorities have intensified their crackdown on opposition activists ahead of the upcoming 2018 presidential elections, arresting at least 36 people in 17 cities from five opposition parties and political youth groups, said Amnesty International today. Many were arrested in connection with comments they posted online about the elections.

    Among who have faced arrest is the former presidential candidate and prominent human rights lawyer Khaled Ali who was detained yesterday and released today on bail. He will now face trial on Monday for “violating public morals”. If convicted he faces a one year prison sentence or a fine. He would also be barred from running for the presidency. In February he acknowledged that he was considering a renewed presidential bid for 2018 elections.

    April 21, 2017

    Information gathered by Amnesty International confirms that members of Egyptian military are responsible for at least seven unlawful killings, including shooting dead at point blank range an unarmed man and a 17-year-old child.

    The organization’s experts analysed leaked video footage of the killings and compared it with photographs and a Youtube video published by the Egyptian military, as well as interviewing Sinai-based sources and experts. The footage shows a member of the Egyptian military shooting the child dead alongside another man in military uniform, whose accent indicates that he is a Sinai local. The bodies of five other men who appear to have been killed earlier also appear in the video.

    April 21, 2017

    Information gathered by Amnesty International confirms that members of Egyptian military are responsible for at least seven unlawful killings, including shooting dead at point blank range an unarmed man and a 17-year-old child.

    The organization’s experts analysed leaked video footage of the killings and compared it with photographs and a Youtube video published by the Egyptian military, as well as interviewing Sinai-based sources and experts. The footage shows a member of the Egyptian military shooting the child dead alongside another man in military uniform, whose accent indicates that he is a Sinai local. The bodies of five other men who appear to have been killed earlier also appear in the video.

    April 19, 2017

    A set of legislative amendments approved by the Egyptian parliament last week in the name of security will sanction mass arbitrary arrests, enable indefinite detention without charge or trial and will severely undermine fair trial guarantees, Amnesty International said in a statement published today. The amendments were rushed through parliament after last week’s deadly bombings of three Coptic churches in Egypt that left 44 people dead and more than 100 injured.

    “If adopted, the proposed legislative amendments would pose an even greater threat to civil liberties by weakening the few remaining protections in the criminal justice system. The amendments give the security forces carte blanche to commit grave violations in the name of combatting terrorism. They would also sanction mass arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention as well as giving courts powers to flout fair trial rights,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty’s campaigns director for North Africa.

    April 13, 2017

    The sentencing of a lawyer to 10 years in prison for a Facebook post exposes the abuse of Egypt’s new counterterrorism law to silence government critics, said Amnesty International.

    On 12 April a court in Alexandria sentenced lawyer Mohamed Ramadan to 10 years in prison, followed by five years under house arrest and a five year ban on using the internet. He was convicted on a series of vaguely worded national security charges including insulting the President, misusing social media platforms and incitement to violence under the country’s draconian counterterrorism law.

    “It is utterly shocking that the Egyptian authorities have imposed such a heavy sentence against someone who was exercising his right to freedom of expression. Posting a comment on Facebook is not a criminal offence – no one should face imprisonment for expressing their views, even if others consider their comments offensive,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s campaigns director for North Africa.

    April 10, 2017

    Emergency measures included in a declaration of a state of emergency by President Abdelfattah al-Sissi in the aftermath of three deplorable church bombings in Egypt will do little to resolve the root causes of sectarian attacks against Copts in Egypt and are likely to lead to a further deterioration in human rights, Amnesty International said today.

    The Islamic State armed group (IS) claimed responsibility for the synchronized bombings in Tanta and another two in Alexandria which targeted Palm Sunday church services and left at least 44 dead.

    “The deadly church attacks demonstrate an appalling disregard for human life and must be utterly condemned. Nothing can justify a horrifying attack on ordinary citizens attending a place of worship,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    “It is the duty of the Egyptian authorities to protect the lives and safety of its population, but the solution is not to continue and intensify curtailing what little freedoms remain in Egypt. Addressing sectarian violence requires genuine political will to end impunity and provide protection.

    March 20, 2017

    “It was like a Hollywood movie. It felt like we were in the middle of a war. There were bullets, tear gas, fire, police, soldiers and tanks everywhere.” 

    Shawkan in a letter from prison published by Amnesty International

    Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as “Shawkan”, faces an unfair trial and possible death sentence for doing his job. He has already spent more than three and a half years in arbitrary detention. He never should have been arrested in the first place. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

    Shawkan was arrested over four years agp on August 14, 2013, for photographing the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in by thousands of supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, in Cairo. Hundreds of people died in the ensuing violence, which saw security forces use tear gas, shotguns and live ammunition to disperse the mostly peaceful protesters. 

    March 01, 2017

    The Egyptian authorities must offer urgent protection to Coptic Christians in North Sinai and provide essential services and accommodation to hundreds who were forced to flee their homes, after seven people from the community were killed in a series of attacks there over the past month, said Amnesty International.

    The government has failed to take action to protect Christians in North Sinai who have increasingly faced kidnapping and assassinations by armed groups over the past three years.  The authorities have also failed to prosecute those responsible for sectarian attacks against Christians elsewhere in Egypt, resorting instead to state-sponsored reconciliation agreements which, at times, have involved the forced eviction of Christian families from their homes.

    At least 150 Coptic Christian families have fled al-Arish as a result of the latest violence according the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. Most have sought shelter in the neighbouring governorate of Ismailia in overcrowded temporary accommodation without adequate access to essential services.

    December 08, 2016

    Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release photojournalist Mohammed Abu Zeid, popularly known as Shawkan, who has spent more than three years in detention and whose court hearing takes place on Saturday 10 December, Amnesty International said today. The authorities must also drop all charges against him.

    “Mohammed Abu Zeid was simply doing his job when he was arrested, taking photographs of the violent dispersal by security forces of a sit-in at the Rabaa al-Adaweya Square in Cairo in 2013 that led to horrific mass killings. His detention by the Egyptian authorities is clearly politically motivated and he should not be held for another day – taking pictures is not a crime,” said Najia Bounaim, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Tunis Regional office.

    December 07, 2016

    The arrest today of Azza Soliman, the founder of the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance, an NGO which works to prevent violence against women, is a clear sign that Egyptian authorities are intensifying the crackdown on human rights activists, said Amnesty International.

    Police officers arrived at Azza Soliman’s home this morning, presented an arrest warrant and took her to Masr el Gedida police station on the outskirts of Cairo, before taking her to an investigative judge’s office in New Cairo for questioning. 

    “Azza Soliman’s arrest is the latest chilling example of the Egyptian authorities’ systematic persecution of independent human rights defenders. We believe she has been arrested for her legitimate human rights work and must be released immediately and unconditionally. The intimidation and harassment of human rights activists has to stop,” said Najia Bounaim, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Tunis Regional office.

    September 17, 2016

    The Zeinhom Criminal Court’s decision today to freeze the personal and organizational bank accounts of a group of leading and award-winning human rights
    lawyers and campaigners over politically motivated accusations that they are using foreign funds for illegal purposes is a reprehensible blow to Egypt’s human rights movement,
    Amnesty International said today. These individuals may subsequently face prosecution and prison terms of up to life, equivalent to 25 years in Egypt.

    “The Egyptian authorities are using this case as a way to crush the country’s human rights movement. Meanwhile, the government’s brutal crackdown
    on dissent shows no sign of stopping, with enforced disappearances and torture becoming a matter of state policy. Egypt needs these critical voices more than ever,”
    said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    August 25, 2016

    The Egyptian authorities’ refusal to release Islam Khalil who was tortured and subjected to enforced disappearance for 122 days is another alarming setback for human rights in Egypt, said Amnesty International.

    Islam Khalil was transferred to the Second Raml Police Station in the coastal city of Alexandria in preparation for his release yesterday after a court ordered his release on bail of 50,000 EGP (approximately US$ 5,630) on 21 August 2016.  However instead of releasing him, the police officers beat him repeatedly until he fainted and brought fresh charges against him including the accusation that he physically assaulted a police officer yesterday.

    July 12, 2016

    Egypt’s National Security Agency (NSA) is abducting, torturing and forcibly disappearing people in an effort to intimidate opponents and wipe out peaceful dissent, said Amnesty International in a damning new report published today which highlights an unprecedented spike in enforced disappearances since early 2015.

    Egypt: ‘Officially, you do not exist’: Disappeared and tortured in the name of counter-terrorism reveals a trend which has seen hundreds of students, political activists and protesters, including children as young as 14, vanish without trace at the hands of the state. On average three to four people per day are seized according to local NGOs, usually when heavily armed security forces led by NSA officers storm their homes. Many are held for months at a time and often kept blindfolded and handcuffed for the entire period.

    May 30, 2016

    The arrest today of the head of the Egyptian Press Syndicate and two colleagues is an alarming setback for freedom of expression and the most brazen attack on the media the country witnessed in decades, said Amnesty International.

    Yahia Galash, head of Press Syndicate and senior board members Khaled Elbalshy and Gamal Abd el-Reheem were summoned for questioning on 29 May by the public prosecution. After 13 hours of questioning, the three men were charged with ‘harbouring suspects against whom an arrest warrant has been issued’ and ‘publishing false news, which threatens public peace, related to their arrest’. The prosecution ordered that the three men be put in custody, with bail set at 10,000 Egyptian pounds (USD$1,123), which they have refused to pay.  

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