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Egypt

    January 16, 2015

    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
    Prime Minister of Canada
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A2

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We are writing this Open Letter to urge that you intervene in the case of Canadian citizen Mohamed Fahmy, who has been imprisoned for over one year in Egypt, with a direct request to the Egyptian government that he be released immediately and unconditionally and allowed to return to Canada.  We appreciate Minister Baird’s efforts to resolve the case during his visit to Cairo this week.  However, the fact that Mr. Fahmy remains imprisoned, with no clear commitment from Egyptian authorities to release him, points to the necessity of you now becoming involved.  We note that Mr. Fahmy himself made that request of you yesterday; and we very much agree with him that action from you personally is now urgently required.

    January 01, 2015

    An Egyptian court’s call for a retrial of three jailed Al Jazeera journalists acknowledges major flaws in the original convictions but leaves the men in unjust incarceration, Amnesty International said today.

    “By calling for a retrial the Egyptian courts are prolonging the injustice that Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed have faced,” said Hassiba Hadjsahraoui,Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “These men should never have been jailed in the first place and should not have to spend one more day in prison. Instead of prolonging their unjust detention pending a retrial, they must be freed immediately.”

    The Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest court of law, ruled that there had been procedural failings in the trial of Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed. The three are now set to face a retrial.

    The trio are serving sentences of between seven and 10 years for “falsifying news” and involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which the authorities allege is involved in terrorism-related activity.

    December 02, 2014

    Criminal justice system spiralling out of control

    In response to the court ruling for 188 people to be sentenced to death in Egypt today on charges of killing 11 police officers in the town of Kerdasa in August 2013 Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Hassiba Hadj Sahrouai said:

    “The death penalty ruling against 188 people to be sentenced to death in Egypt today is just another example of how the country’s criminal justice system is spiralling out of control.  These latest death sentences clearly expose a pattern of issuing death sentences en masse in cases involving police killings.”

    “It is quite telling that the sentencing, the third such conviction we have seen this year, was handed down in the same week that the case against former President Hosni Mubarak was dropped and and former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and his aides were cleared of all charges over killing protesters during the 'January 25 revolution'. This is blatantly a case of justice being meted out based on a political whim."

    November 27, 2014

    The Egyptian authorities must halt the arbitrary demolition of hundreds of homes and mass forced evictions underway in Rafah, North Sinai in order to create a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip, Amnesty International said amid signs that the operation may be expanded.

    “The scale of the forced evictions has been astonishing; the Egyptian authorities have thrown more than 1,000 families out of their homes in just a matter of days, flouting international and national law. Shocking scenes have emerged of homes in Rafah being bulldozed, bombed, with entire buildings reduced to piles of rubble and families forcibly evicted,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    At least 800 homes have been destroyed with an estimated 1,165 families forcibly evicted from their homes since the Egyptian military began clearing the area days after a deadly attack on a military checkpoint in North Sinai that killed at least 33 soldiers on 24 October 2014, according to official statements.  

    November 25, 2014

    Widespread student protests against the repressive practices of the current government have rocked Egypt since the academic year began on October 11th. The subsequent crackdown by the authorites has been marked by arbitrary and excessive use of force resulting in hundreds of arrests and injuries.

    Amnesty International Canada and the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy have co-authored the following statement of solidarity:

    We, the undersigned student associations and clubs, are following closely the situation in Egypt and the violation of the basic human rights of Egyptian students in universities all over Egypt since the start of the school year there in October.

    November 14, 2014

    The Egyptian authorities must immediately release and refrain from deporting at least 66 refugees from Syria and Gaza, including a number of children, who are unlawfully detained in the country, said Amnesty International. The refugees are being detained in poor conditions with some held in rooms infested with cockroaches, mosquitos and mice.

    The National Security Department within the Ministry of Interior has issued deportation orders against at least 64 of the refugees – who could be deported at any time – even though the Public Prosecutor office in Alexandria ordered their release. They include 56 Palestinians threatened with being forcibly returned to Syria.

    “By unlawfully detaining dozens of refugees and issuing them with deportation orders the Egyptian authorities have displayed a shocking level of indifference to their suffering,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa

    November 05, 2014

    Egypt’s defence of its human rights record lay in tatters today, Amnesty International said following the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) examination at the UN Human Rights Council today.

    The Egyptian delegation in Geneva rejected criticism from UN member states despite damning evidence of human rights violations collected by Amnesty International and others.

    “As expected, we saw a lot of posturing today from Egypt. The picture of the country the delegation provided was unrecognizable,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “At best, they are completely disconnected from the scale of the human rights crisis engulfing the country. It was a pathetic attempt at a cover up.”  

    Leading Egyptian human rights organizations had earlier announced they were withdrawing from the UPR process altogether for fear of reprisals by the authorities.

    Many fear a sweeping crackdown will begin in five days’ time, when a government deadline for NGOs to register under the current Mubarak-era repressive Law on Associations expires.

    October 25, 2014

    Released 0900 GMT, 25 October 2014

    The Egyptian authorities must release a group of activists on trial for defying the country’s draconian protest law, Amnesty International said ahead of Sunday’s verdict in their trial for taking part in an unauthorized protest.

    Prominent human rights defender Yara Sallam and well-known activist Sanaa Seif are among 22 people charged with taking part in an unauthorized protest aimed at threatening “public peace”, among other spurious charges, despite the fact that Yara Sallam did not even participate in the protest. If convicted the activists could face up to five years in prison.

    “This show trial, based on highly questionable evidence, is the latest example of the Egyptian authorities’ determination to quash peaceful protest and stifle any form of dissent,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program. 

    October 17, 2014

    Testimonies gathered by Amnesty International indicate that Egyptian security forces used excessive force to crack down on student demonstrations at Alexandria University this week, injuring at least 35 students and leaving three other students in a critical condition. Two security officers were injured during the clashes according to official figures.

    Students interviewed by Amnesty International described how protests that started peacefully on university grounds later descended into violence. Security forces stationed outside the university’s main gate fired tear gas and shotgun pellets at a crowd of students, some of whom hurled ‘hmarich’ (fireworks), Molotov cocktails and stones. It is not clear how the clashes began but as they intensified, security forces broke down the main gate storming the university premises, chasing students and continuing to fire at them.

    September 19, 2014

    The Egyptian authorities are putting at risk the life of a jailed activist, whose health has sharply deteriorated after more than 230 days on hunger strike, by denying him sustained medical care and placing him in solitary confinement, said Amnesty International.

    Mohamed Soltan, a dual US-Egyptian national, is among 86 jailed activists who are on hunger strike in prisons and police stations across Egypt in protest at the dire conditions in which they are held, or in some cases, their prolonged pre-charge or pre-trial detention and unfair trials. They are also protesting against the repressive protest law that many are accused of breaching.  

    Mohamed Soltan’s family have warned that his health is in a critical state and he is at imminent risk of organ failure.  

    “Denying medical care to someone who is critically ill is not just callous and cruel, but blatantly unlawful,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa programme.

    August 30, 2014

    Egypt is tightening its chokehold on civil society, Amnesty International warned, as the country’s independent NGOs face the risk of being shut down if they fail to comply with a compulsory requirement to register by 2 September.

    All non-governmental organizations could face closure and possible prosecution if they do not register by that date under the existing draconian law on associations.

    “The looming deadline sounds very much like a death sentence for independent Egyptian NGOs. The authorities’ ultimatum is not about enabling NGOs to operate and instead paves the way for the closure of those that are critical of the government,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The Egyptian authorities must immediately withdraw the requirement for compulsory registration, which is contrary to international human rights standards.”

    The organization also urged the authorities to drop plans for a new law on NGOs which is set to be even more repressive than the current legislation.

    August 12, 2014

    As news breaks that three judges have recused themselves from a mass court case in Egypt, Amnesty International remains concerned that show trials followed by mass death sentences are becoming a grim trade mark of Egyptian justice.

    Three judges who made up a Court Panel which was due to hear the case against 494 people today, have recused themselves on account of objections raised by the defendants' lawyers. The Cairo Appeal Court will schedule another criminal court panel at a later date. The majority of the defendants could face the death sentence in what amounts to little more than a pantomime the organization warns.

    The trial was in relation to protests that took place on 16 and 17 August 2013, in Ramsis, Cairo where at least 97 people died, most of them as a result of a reckless use of force by the security forces. Those charged include 12 minors, who were held in detention with adults, in direct contravention of Egyptian law.

    July 03, 2014

    •        At least 16,000 detained and at least 80 deaths in custody recorded in past year
    •        Torture and other ill-treatment in detention continues unabated
    •        Fair trial standards routinely flouted 

    A surge in arbitrary arrests, detentions and harrowing incidents of torture and deaths in police custody recorded by Amnesty International provide strong evidence of the sharp deterioration in human rights in Egypt in the year since President Mohamed Morsi was ousted. 

    June 27, 2014

    The conviction of a human rights lawyer jailed for taking part in a peaceful protest must be overturned, said Amnesty International ahead of an appeal hearing in the case on Saturday 28 June.

    Mahinour El-Masry, who is well known in Egypt for her political activism and human rights work, was sentenced to two years in prison last month after she participated in a protest last December. The protest was peaceful, but some of the demonstrators turned to violence after police forcibly dispersed the assembly.

    “There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Mahinour El-Masry was involved in violence against the security forces. Her case is just the latest in a series of examples of the Egyptian authorities’ systematic attempts to stifle dissent, including by using the repressive protest law enacted last November,” said Philip Luther, Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “Mahinour El-Masry is a prisoner of conscience, convicted and sentenced solely for protesting peacefully. She should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    June 23, 2014

    The conviction today of three Al Jazeera English journalists accused of “falsifying news” and belonging to or assisting the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt is a ferocious attack on media freedom, said Amnesty International.

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