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Egypt

    April 16, 2014

    The Honourable John Baird
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    125 Sussex Drive
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0G2

    April 15, 2014

    Dear Minister Baird,

    We are writing this Open Letter to you in advance of your trip to Egypt later this week.  In the face of a deeply troubling human rights crisis in Egypt, your visit offers a crucial opportunity to convey a clear message that Canada looks to the Egyptian government to take immediate and meaningful steps to address the continuing deterioration in the country’s human rights situation.  Amnesty International members across Canada are calling on you to make it clear that Canada expects the Egyptian government to commit to a program of action to protect the human rights of all Egyptians.

    In addition to raising these very serious overarching concerns about the state of human rights protection in Egypt, we are calling on you to press for action with respect to three particular situations:

    April 11, 2014

    New counter-terrorism legislation set to be approved by Egypt’s president is deeply flawed and must be scrapped or fundamentally revised, Amnesty International said.

    Two draft anti-terror laws, which were sent to interim president Adly Mansour on 3 April and could be signed off at any time, would give the Egyptian authorities increased powers to muzzle freedom of expression and imprison opponents and critics.

    “These deeply flawed draft laws can be abused because they include an increasingly broad and vague definition of terrorism,” warned Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

    “This draft legislation also violates the right to free expression, undermines safeguards against torture and arbitrary detention, and expands the scope of application of the death penalty.”

    Egypt has seen a rise in deadly armed attacks, mainly targeting government buildings, army checkpoints and other security institutions and personnel, since the removal of Mohamed Morsi from the presidency on 3 July 2013, particularly in the restive North Sinai region.

    April 09, 2014

    Egypt’s continued detention of three Al Jazeera journalists charged with falsifying news and involvement with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement is “vindictive”, Amnesty International said ahead of the trio’s latest trial hearing.

    Al Jazeera English staff Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, along with five Egyptian students, stand accused of belonging to or assisting a banned terrorist organization -in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Their trial resumes on 10 April.

    “What the Egyptian authorities are doing is vindictive persecution of journalists for merely doing their jobs,” said Amnesty International’s Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Program Deputy Director.

    “So far, the Prosecution has failed to produce any convincing evidence and the journalists appear to be pawns in the hands of the authorities in their ongoing dispute with Qatar. The truth is that Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed are prisoners of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    April 07, 2014

    A Cairo appeals court today upheld the conviction of three government critics for taking part in an “unauthorized” protest, a further sign that the Egyptian authorities are tightening the vice on freedom of expression and assembly, Amnesty International said.

    The defendants, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, both activists with the 6 April Youth Movement, and well-known blogger Ahmed Douma, are to serve three years in prison with labour and a 50,000 Egyptian pound (US$7,185) fine. The court also ruled they should serve three years’ probation following their release.

    “This appeals court ruling tightens the vice on freedom of expression and assembly and is yet another sign of Egypt’s growing climate of intolerance towards any legitimate criticism of the authorities,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “Repression goes unabated in Egypt. Those who were at the forefront of the 2011 uprising are now jailed for a mere peaceful protest. 

    April 04, 2014

    Egypt must overturn the convictions of three government critics sentenced to three years in jail for taking part in an “unauthorized” protest and immediately and unconditionally release them, Amnesty International said ahead of the prisoners’ appeal verdict.

    Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, both activists with the 6 April Youth Movement, and well-known blogger Ahmed Douma are the first Egyptians to be given jail terms for defying the country’s repressive protest law, adopted in November last year.

    The appeal court is expected to issue its final verdict on the activists’ three-year sentence on Monday.

    “Jailing government critics on trumped-up charges or for breaching the repressive protest law is part of the authorities’ ploy to silence dissenting voices and tighten their grip on the country,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Amnesty International.

    March 24, 2014

    Today’s mass death sentences handed down by an Egyptian court are a grotesque example of the shortcomings and the selective nature of Egypt's justice system, Amnesty International said.

    According to state media reports, in a single hearing this morning, the Minya Criminal Court sentenced 529 supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi to be executed for their alleged role in violence following his ousting in July last year.

    “This is injustice writ large and these death sentences must be quashed. Imposing death sentences of this magnitude in a single case makes Egypt surpass most other countries’ use of capital punishment in a year,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    "This is the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences we’ve seen in recent years, not just in Egypt but anywhere in the world.

    February 25, 2014

    Egypt’s armed forces must end the military trial of two journalists, release them immediately and unconditionally, and drop all charges against them, Amnesty International said as it named both men prisoners of conscience.

    Amr Al Qazaz and Islam Farahat are to appear before the North Cairo Misdemeanour Military Court on 26 February 2014, on charges of illegally obtaining and publishing classified military documents and videos – including interviews with Egypt’s Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. If convicted, both men could face up to three years in prison.

    “The two journalists are prisoners of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression by performing their jobs,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “The Egyptian authorities must release them immediately and unconditionally, and drop all charges against them. Journalism is not a crime, and civilians, including journalists, should never face trial in military courts.”

    February 19, 2014

    The Egyptian authorities must immediately drop the charges against three journalists from Al Jazeera English who were referred to trial today for allegedly providing assistance or belonging to a banned group engaged in terrorist activities, said Amnesty International.

    “Today’s decision by Egypt’s chief prosecutor to refer a number of journalists to trial on alleged terrorism related charges is a major setback for media freedom in Egypt,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “The move sends the chilling message that only one narrative is acceptable in Egypt today - that which is sanctioned by the Egyptian authorities.”

    The three journalists -- Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed -- have been detained since 29 December 2013. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression and is calling for them to be immediately and unconditionally released.

    If convicted, the journalists could face between three years to life in prison.

    February 07, 2014
    Since the beginning of the academic year in September 2013, several protests have been held on university grounds by the “Students against the Coup”, an anti-government activist group.© Demotix

    The Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release three women arrested last November at a protest at Mansoura University, said Amnesty International.  

    The organization said authorities should drop all the charges against the women, who are due to go on trial on Saturday 8 February. If convicted, they face up to life in prison.

    January 29, 2014

     The Egyptian authorities must immediately drop the charges against three journalists from Al Jazeera English who were referred to trial today for allegedly providing assistance or belonging to a banned group engaged in terrorist activities, said Amnesty International.

    “Today’s decision by Egypt’s chief prosecutor to refer a number of journalists to trial on alleged terrorism related charges is a major setback for media freedom in Egypt,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    "The move sends the chilling message that only one narrative is acceptable in Egypt today - that which is sanctioned by the Egyptian authorities.”

    The three journalists -- Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed -- have been detained since 29 December 2013. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression and is calling for them to be immediately and unconditionally released.

    If convicted, the journalists could face between three years to life in prison.

    January 22, 2014
    The Egyptian authorities have tightened the noose on freedom of expression and assembly© REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghan

    Posted at 0001 GMT 23 January 2014

    The Egyptian authorities are using every resource at their disposal to quash dissent and trample on human rights, said Amnesty International in a damning new report published ahead of the third anniversary of the “25 January Revolution”.

    The briefing entitled Roadmap to repression: No end in sight to human rights violations, paints a bleak picture of the state of rights and liberties in Egypt since the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

    January 03, 2014

    Three prominent activists are facing trial in an apparently politically motivated case based on unreliable witnesses and scant evidence, said Amnesty International ahead of a court verdict due this Sunday.

    On 5 January a criminal court in Giza, Greater Cairo, is expected to deliver a verdict in a case against 12 people accused of attacking and setting fire to the campaign headquarters of former presidential candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, on 28 May 2012. The defendants include three leading activists who have been critical of abuses committed by the security forces under successive Egyptian governments.

    “The Egyptian authorities must not use Sunday’s verdict to punish activists who oppose them. There are reasons to believe the trial is politically motivated. All three activists have denied they were present at the scene and evidence against them is questionable,” said Said Boumedouha, Acting Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    November 28, 2013

    The conviction and imprisonment of 21 female protesters, including seven girls, after they participated in a peaceful pro-Morsi demonstration in Alexandria shows the Egyptian authorities’ determination to punish dissent, Amnesty International said.

    “These harsh prison sentences against young women and girls come after the adoption of a draconian protest law and the violent dispersal of an activists’ protest in Cairo. It is a strong signal that there will be no limit to the authorities’ efforts to crush opposition and that no one is immune to their iron fist,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “These women and girls should have never been arrested. They are now prisoners of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    The Sidi-Gaber Misdemeanour court in Alexandria yesterday sentenced 14 women to 11 years and one month in prison. An Alexandria juvenile court sentenced seven girls to be placed in a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21.

    November 28, 2013

    Ahmed Ezz, a mechanical engineer, talks about his voluntary work with Operation Anti-Sexual Harrassment/Assault (OpAntiSH), an activist organization based in Cairo, Egypt, known for intervening in sexual assaults by mobs in Tahrir Square.

    When people find out that a woman has been sexually harassed and assaulted, their first reaction is “what was she wearing?”. They always lay the blame on the women themselves. I’ve witnessed this so many times.

    It is not safe at all in Cairo for women and girls. Their freedom of movement is constantly constrained. Some avoid using the metro, and spend more money on taking taxis or multiple buses, simply to minimize the risk of harassment and assault. If women and girls complain about sexual harassment, people around them just try to calm them down, belittle their concerns or accuse them of unjustly pointing the fingers at harassers.

    Finding a solution

    November 25, 2013

    A new law placing broad restrictions on protests in Egypt is a serious setback that poses a grave threat to freedom of assembly and gives security forces a free rein to use excessive force, including lethal force, against demonstrators, Amnesty International said today.

    The law, signed yesterday by Egyptian President Adly Mansour, grants the Ministry of Interior wide discretionary powers over protests and lays out broad circumstances in which demonstrators can be found to violate the law. 

    “It is a dangerous sign that the first piece of legislation regulating rights and freedoms passed since the ousting of Mohamed Morsi curtails freedom of assembly and treats peaceful protesters like criminals. Not only does it allow the police to disperse peaceful demonstrations, but gives them the power to shoot protesters who pose no threat to the lives or safety of others”, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

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