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Egypt

    February 21, 2013

    A move by Egyptian authorities to prohibit national NGOs’ contact with foreign organizations without prior permission from security bodies represents a new low for freedom of association, said Amnesty International.
     
    In a letter to the NGO the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Egypt’s Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs stated that no “local entity” is permitted to engage with “international entities” in any way without the permission of the “security bodies”, referring to instructions issued by the Prime Minister.
     
    Amnesty International has obtained a copy of the letter. The vague language on “international entities” is likely to include both international human rights organizations and UN bodies.

    “NGOs in Egypt already face staggering restrictions, but this instruction is a new low,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.  “It is a disturbing indicator of what may lie ahead for human rights groups in the government’s new law.”

    February 12, 2013

    A temporary ban on YouTube imposed in Egypt over a video deemed offensive to Islam is a setback for freedom of expression , Amnesty International has said.

    A court in Cairo this weekend ordered a 30-day block on the video-sharing website in the wake of the controversial 'Innocence of Muslims' video, which sparked protests across Muslim countries in September.

    Saturday's court ruling said that "freedom of opinion [should] not attack the beliefs of others".

    "This ruling is a clear assault of freedom of expression and has far-reaching consequences in the country where activists have relied heavily on YouTube to expose human rights abuses in the country," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    "Criticism of religions and beliefs are a vital part of freedom of expression – regardless of how offensive or intolerant the opinion might be."

    Cairo's Administrative Court said there must be a balance between freedom of expression and “the interests and goals of society, and the protection of its values and traditions".

    February 06, 2013

    Letting perpetrators in Egypt get away with sexual harassment and assault has fuelled violent attacks against women in the vicinity of Tahrir Square in recent months - continued impunity will only lead to further crimes, Amnesty International warned today in a new briefing.

    Based on the accounts of survivors and activists gathered by Amnesty International, mob-led sexual assaults follow a clear pattern.

    Women are attacked alone or separated from friends by a group of men that quickly escalates in number; the survivors are dragged inside the mob as hands and sometimes weapons violate their bodies and the men attempt to remove their clothes.

    “Horrific, violent attacks on women including rape in the vicinity of Tahrir Square demonstrate that it’s now crucial President Morsi takes drastic steps to end this culture of impunity and gender-based discrimination, and for all political leaders to speak out,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    February 01, 2013

    Amnesty International's Egypt researcher Diana Eltahawy writes from Cairo.

    Almost every girl and woman – regardless of age, social status or choice of attire – who has walked the streets or taken public transport in Cairo, has experienced some form of verbal or physical sexual harassment.

    This isn’t new. For years, Egyptian women’s rights activists and others have called on the authorities to recognize the seriousness of the problem.

    There needs to be a fundamental shift in institutionalized attitudes that discriminate against women.

    The Egyptian authorities must introduce legal reforms, prosecute perpetrators and address root causes, because the plight of women who have experienced sexual violence has been ignored.

    Blame is placed on the victims for being dressed “indecently”, or for daring to be present in “male” public spaces.

    The horrific testimonies emerging following protests commemorating the second anniversary of the “25 January Revolution” have brought to light how violent mob sexual attacks against women have happened, but have rarely been brought to public attention.

    January 31, 2013

    Violent clashes between protesters and security forces have claimed at least 38 lives in Port Said.

    Amnesty International researcher Diana Eltahawy is in Egypt and has collected testimony that points to the use of excessive force by the security forces as unrest continues.

    She said: “It’s quite clear from the testimony I’ve gathered that security forces have been guilty of excessive force including the use of firearms when lives have not been directly in danger.

    “The culture of impunity that has built up in Egypt over decades remains and we are calling for full, independent and thorough investigations to bring those who committed crimes to justice.”

    Now back in Cairo, Diana Eltahawy is available for interview.

    Timeline of testimony gathered in Port Said by Amnesty International

    26 January

    January 30, 2013

     

    Violent clashes between protesters and security forces have claimed at least 38 lives in Port Said.

    Amnesty International researcher Diana Eltahawy is in Egypt and has collected testimony that points to the use of excessive force by the security forces as unrest continues.

    She said: “It’s quite clear from the testimony I’ve gathered that security forces have been guilty of excessive force including the use of firearms when lives have not been directly in danger.

    “The culture of impunity that has built up in Egypt over decades remains and we are calling for full, independent and thorough investigations to bring those who committed crimes to justice.”

    Now back in Cairo, Diana Eltahawy is available for interview.

       Timeline of testimony gathered in Port Said by Amnesty International

    January 28, 2013

    Eyewitness accounts collected by Amnesty International in Egypt point to the unnecessary use of lethal force by security forces during a weekend of clashes with demonstrators.

    After three days of violence that claimed at least 45 lives and led to more than 1,000 injured, Amnesty International called for end to excessive force by security forces, and urged the Egyptian security forces to refrain from using lethal force unless it is unavoidable to protect life.

    A researcher from Amnesty International investigating killings in Suez collected disturbing eyewitness accounts of excessive force, including in some instances security forces using lethal force when it was not strictly necessary to protect life, including when protestors did not pose an imminent threat to them or others.

    The security forces also breached Egyptian legislation which, while falling short of international standards, sets some limits on the use of firearms by police, including requiring the issuing of audible warnings and aiming at the feet.

    January 23, 2013

    Egypt must ensure the deaths of hundreds of protesters since early 2011 are independently and effectively investigated, if the country is to move away from the abuses that defined the Mubarak-era, said Amnesty International in a briefing published to coincide with the second anniversary of the start of the “25 January Revolution”.

    The briefing, Rampant impunity: Still no justice for protesters killed in the “25 January Revolution”, details shortcomings in investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for the deaths of some 840 individuals during the demonstrations that ended over 30 years of Hosni Mubarak’s repressive rule and led to the first elected civilian President in Egypt. At least 6,600 people also sustained injuries during the protests, which were brutally suppressed by the security forces.

    At least 12 people have died during protest violence since President Mohamed Morsi took office.

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