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Egypt

    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.

    June 21, 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.

    The three journalists – Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, all considered by Amnesty International to be prisoners of conscience – were sentenced to seven years in jail. Baher Mohamed received a further three years on a separate charge of possessing a bullet shell. They have been detained since 29 December 2013.

    June 11, 2014

    The sentencing today by the Cairo Criminal Court of leading activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah and 24 others to 15 years in prison on politically motivated charges is an outrageous travesty of justice, said Amnesty International.  

    “Protesting peacefully is not a crime. If held solely for taking part in a protest, the activists must be released immediately and unconditionally," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.  

    "It's deeply troubling that, just days into Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's presidency, courts are already jailing government critics. By locking up one of the leading activists in Egypt, the authorities are sending a clear message that they will not tolerate anyone daring to challenge or criticise them."

    The activists were tried in relation to a peaceful protest which took place outside the Shura Council last November by the “No To Military Trial” group.

    The group was protesting against the inclusion of a provision allowing the trial of civilians before military courts by the Drafting Committee of the Constitution.

    June 10, 2014

    (Beirut) – President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi takes office in Egypt in the midst of a human rights crisis as dire as in any period in the country’s modern history, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The new president should make addressing Egypt’s dismal human rights record a top priority.

    In the period since the July 3, 2013 ousting of President Mohamed Morsy, Egyptian security forces have used excessive force on numerous occasions, leading to the worst incident of mass unlawful killings in Egypt’s recent history. Judicial authorities have handed down unprecedented large-scale death sentences and security forces have carried out mass arrests and torture that harken back to the darkest days of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.

    June 04, 2014
    Photo: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well as mobile phone applications would be systematically monitored under the proposed plans.© Ed Ou/Getty Images

    A call for tenders to introduce a new system to carry out indiscriminate mass surveillance of social media in Egypt would deal a devastating blow to the rights to privacy and freedom of expression in the country, said Amnesty International. 

    Under the proposed plans, disclosed in a leaked tender by the Ministry of Interior this week, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and possibly mobile phone applications such as WhatsApp, Viber and Instagram would be systematically monitored.

    May 22, 2014

    At least 15 activists and lawyers were arrested this afternoon when Egyptian security forces stormed the Alexandria offices of the Center for Economic and Social Rights for the second time in six months, a move Amnesty International called a blow to the freedoms of association and assembly. 
     
    According to one of the detained lawyers, who was released after two hours, the security forces chased people down the stairs and into side streets, beating the activists with their hands and rifle butts as they took them into custody. Female activists were allegedly sexually harassed and cursed during the arrests. The security forces also confiscated equipment.  
     
    “This fresh raid on the Center for Economic and Social Rights is the next step in the escalating crackdown on critical voices in Egypt,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    May 22, 2014

    Dozens of civilians have been subjected to enforced disappearance and held for months in secret detention at an Egyptian military camp, where they are subjected to torture and other ill-treatment to make them confess to crimes, according to shocking new evidence gathered by Amnesty International.

    Egyptian lawyers and activists have a list of at least 30 civilians who are reportedly being held in secret at Al Azouly prison inside Al Galaa Military Camp in Ismailia, 130km north-east of Cairo. Former detainees there have told Amnesty International that many more – possibly up to 400 – could be held in the three-storey prison block. The detainees have not been charged or referred to prosecutors or courts, and have had no access to their lawyers or families.

    “These are practices associated with the darkest hours of military and Mubarak’s rule. Egypt’s military cannot run roughshod over detainees’ rights like this,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

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