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Egypt

    November 08, 2015

    The arrest of a prominent advocate of freedom of expression in Egypt today is a clear signal of the Egyptian authorities’ resolve to continue with their ferocious onslaught against independent journalism and civil society, said Amnesty International.

    Hossam Bahgat was summoned by military intelligence to appear for questioning this morning, apparently in connection with articles that he wrote about the Egyptian army, which the military has deemed to be a threat to its security. Amnesty International has learned that he is being charged by the military prosecutor in what could be a flagrant violation of his right to freedom of expression.

    “The arrest of Hossam Bahgat today is yet another nail in the coffin for freedom of expression in Egypt. He is being detained and questioned by the military prosecutor for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and must be immediately and unconditionally released. Any charges brought against him must be dropped,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    October 21, 2015

    An armed raid on a journalism NGO in Cairo today marks a dangerous escalation in the Egyptian authorities’ crackdown on freedom of expression and association, said Amnesty International.

    Members of the security forces carrying guns and wearing masks stormed the office of the Mada Foundation for Media Development this morning and arrested all staff members present. The reasons for the raid are not clear but, according to information available to Amnesty International, security forces did not have a search or arrest warrant from the prosecutor’s office as required by Egyptian law.

    “Carrying out an armed raid against an NGO which works to expand the skills of journalists sends a chilling and clear message that independent journalism and activities of civil society will not be tolerated in today’s Egypt. This is an unlawful assault and has all the hallmarks of yet another attempt to clamp down on independent journalism in the country,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    September 28, 2015

    The international community must not be fooled by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s veneer of reform and empty promises, said Amnesty International ahead of a speech at the UN General Assembly in New York later today. 

    The widely publicized prisoner pardons have yet to be implemented fully. While two Al Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, and several prominent activists were among those released on 23 September, seven activists remain in detention despite supposedly being pardoned last week. 

    “Most of those pardoned by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi should never have been locked up in the first place because they were peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. But given the authorities’ intolerance of peaceful dissent, the space vacated in prison cells by those freed in the pardon will be filled up again all too soon,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. 

    September 25, 2015

    Media workers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are free. Just weeks after a court sentenced them to another three years in prison, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has cut short the rest of their sentences and released them under a presidential pardon.

    For more than a year and a half they have been persecuted by Egyptian authorities – forced to endure two drawn-out, politically-motivated trials and months in prison – simply for their work for news channel Al Jazeera English.

    Their release is very welcome news, although they should never have been jailed for the ludicrous charges of ‘broadcasting false news’ and operating as journalists without authorisation. We continue to call on Egyptian authorities to drop all criminal charges against them and their colleague Peter Greste.

    September 23, 2015

    Today’s presidential decree granting pardons to 100 people including Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed and several unlawfully imprisoned activists including Sana Seif and Yara Sallam is welcome news, but represents little more than a token gesture, said Amnesty International.

    The organization said the pardons, made ahead of the Muslim Eid holiday, should be followed by further action to seriously address the appalling human rights record under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, including the intolerance of peaceful dissent and criticism of the authorities.

    “While these pardons come as a great relief, it is ludicrous that some of these people were ever behind bars in the first place. Hundreds remain behind bars for protesting or because of their journalistic work. All those jailed for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association or because of their journalistic or human rights work must have their convictions quashed and be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    September 18, 2015

    Tarek Tito's brother Mahmoud Hussein has spent over a year in an Egyptian jail, simply for wearing an anti-torture T-shirt. On the anniversary of Mahmoud's 600th day in jail, Tarek writes his younger brother a letter.

    My little Mahmoud, 600 days have passed and you are not yet home.

    I can no longer stand your absence.  The bitterness of separation disrupts our small family. Mother makes your bed every morning while she hides her tears from us, and Father stares at your face in the photos that now cover his room. It’s as if he is getting to know you all over again. We miss your laughter and await your freedom with every sunrise.

    The day I almost lost my mind

    You have been detained for more than 600 days for wearing a t-shirt that said “Nation without Torture”. That was our dream following the 25 January Revolution – the dream of a country that respects and honours the human body and protects it from torture.

    August 29, 2015

     

    The guilty verdicts handed down against Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are an affront to justice that sound the death knell for freedom of expression in Egypt, said Amnesty International. 

    The Cairo criminal court ruled that the journalists broadcasted “false news” and worked without registration, sentencing Mohamed Fahmy to three years in prison and Baher Mohamed to three and a half years in prison. Their co-defendant, Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, was convicted in his absence and sentence to three years in prison.

    August 18, 2015

    The decision by an Egyptian court to refer the case of a photojournalist to a criminal court while extending his pre-trial detention, represents yet another hefty blow to human rights and the rule of law in the country, said Amnesty International. Mahmoud Abu Zeid, widely known as Shawkan, is among hundreds who have been held in pre-trial detention for more than two years across the country.

    “The decision to extend the detention of Shawkan until the criminal court sets a date for the trial, is disgraceful and a blatant violation of international human rights standards. It also contravenes the Egyptian constitution and national law which limits pre-trial detention to an already prolonged period of two years if the detainee is not sentenced within that period” said Said Boumedouha, Acting Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “By arbitrarily detaining hundreds of people for lengthy periods pending trial, the Egyptian authorities are sending a clear message that they will stop at nothing to quash all signs of dissent – even flouting their own laws in the process.”

    August 13, 2015

    Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to sign a deeply worrying new counterterrorism bill into law today which contravenes the Egyptian Constitution and international human rights law, Amnesty International said.

    According to Egypt’s Minister of Justice Ahmed El Zend, the President has the law on his desk for final approval today ahead of 14 August, the second anniversary of a police operation to disperse protesters camped in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adaweya and Nahda squares, which resulted in the killing of more than 600 protesters and mass arbitrary arrests, among other human rights violations.

    “This new law will become yet another tool for the authorities to crush all forms of dissent and steamroll over basic human rights. It is an abomination that will only pave the way for more horrific incidents like Rabaa in the future. The Egyptian authorities must drop the draft law or fundamentally revise it,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    July 15, 2015

    A draconian counterterrorism law expanding the Egyptian authorities’ iron grip on power would strike at the very heart of basic freedoms and human rights principles and must be scrapped immediately or fundamentally revised, said Amnesty International. 

    The draft law, which is being discussed by the cabinet today, represents a flagrant attack on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. It also weakens safeguards to ensure fair trials and widens the use of the death penalty. If approved the law could be signed off by the President and ratified within days. 

    “The proposed counterterrorism law vastly expands the Egyptian authorities’ powers and threatens the most fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. If approved, it is set to become yet another tool for the authorities to crush all forms of dissent,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    June 29, 2015
    Photo: Mansoura University students Menatalla Moustafa, Abrar Al-Anany and teacher Yousra Elkhateeb, jailed in Egypt on 21 May 2014 for protesting peacefully.

    Posted at 0001hrs BST 30 June 2015

    A continuing onslaught against young activists by the Egyptian authorities is a blatant attempt to crush the spirit of the country’s bravest and brightest young minds, and nip in the bud any future threat to their rule, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

    Free three Egyptian young women protestors jailed for protesting

    June 29, 2015

    The perpetrators of a bomb attack in Cairo this morning which killed Egypt’s Public Prosecutor and injured five of his bodyguards and one other by-stander must be brought to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty, Amnesty International said. 

    Hisham Barakat was being driven downtown from his home in the district of Heliopolis early this morning when a car bomb exploded next to his convoy, setting fire to many cars. He later died in hospital of his injuries.

    “The killing of Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat was a despicable, cowardly and cold-blooded act of murder,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International. 

    “If the rule of law is to prevail in Egypt, judges and prosecutors must be free to do their jobs without the threat of violence. However, the Egyptian authorities must not use such threats as a pretext for trampling upon human rights.”

    June 16, 2015

    By sentencing Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi and 102 others, including senior Muslim Brotherhood members, to death today, the Egyptian authorities have once again demonstrated the appalling state of the country’s justice system, Amnesty International said.

    “This appalling outcome is sadly not surprising. It’s just another symptom of how horrendously broken Egypt’s justice system has become,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “This is nothing more than a vengeful march to the gallows. These entire legal proceedings have been a mockery of justice and the death sentences must be thrown out. Mohamed Morsi and his aides must be released or retried in civilian court in line with Egyptian law and international fair trial standards without recourse to death penalty.”

    May 16, 2015

    An Egyptian court’s recommendation today to sentence ousted president Mohamed Morsi and more than 100 other defendants to death after grossly unfair trials shows the deplorable state of the country’s criminal justice system, said Amnesty International.

    “Condemning Mohamed Morsi to death after more grossly unfair trials shows a complete disregard for human rights. His trials were undermined even before he set foot in the courtroom. The fact that he was held for months incommunicado without judicial oversight and that he didn’t have a lawyer to represent him during the investigations makes these trials nothing but a charade based on null and void procedures,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.  

    May 02, 2015

    Released 3 May 2015 00:01 GMT

    Journalists in Egypt face acute dangers including arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention without charge, prosecution and intimidation according to a statement published by Amnesty International on World Press Freedom Day (3 May) highlighting the dangers of media reporting in the country.

    At least 18 journalists are currently detained in Egypt, dozens more have faced arbitrary arrest. Since June 2013, at least six journalists have also been killed while covering protests, either by security forces or in clashes between demonstrators.

    “In Egypt today anyone who challenges the authorities’ official narrative, criticizes the government or exposes human rights violations is at risk of being tossed into a jail cell, often to be held indefinitely without charge or trial or face prosecution on trumped-up charges,” said Philip Luther Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

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