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Egypt

    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.

    May 15, 2014

    The Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Abdallah Elshamy, an Al Jazeera Arabic journalist who has been placed in solitary confinement in a maximum-security prison and denied medical care for an ongoing hunger strike, said Amnesty International today.

    Abdallah Elshamy has been on hunger strike since 21 January 2014 and his health has deteriorated severely, according to recent reports. On Monday, he disappeared from his cell in Tora Istiqbal Prison and the authorities did not disclose information about his location to his family or lawyer, despite repeated appeals.

    His family, who was able to visit him briefly yesterday, said that he was moved to solitary confinement in al-Aqrab Prison (known as “The Scorpion”) as a punitive measure for his hunger strike. After his transfer, Abdallah Elshamy spent three continuous days in his cell without security officials checking on him once.

    April 28, 2014

    Amnesty International today warned of grave flaws in Egypt's criminal justice system after a court in El Minya, Upper Egypt, confirmed death sentences for 37 people and imposed terms of life imprisonment to 491 in one case, and ruled that 683 individuals should be sentenced to death in another.

    “Today’s decisions once again expose how arbitrary and selective Egypt’s criminal justice system has become. The court has displayed a complete contempt for the most basic principles of a fair trial and has utterly destroyed its credibility. It is time for Egypt’s authorities to come clean and acknowledge that the current system is neither fair nor independent or impartial,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    April 25, 2014

    The lives of three Syrian men will be put at grave risk if the Egyptian authorities follow through with plans to forcibly send them back to Syria, said Amnesty International.

    The three are among more than 140 refugees and asylum seekers, including 68 children – most of whom are from Syria – unlawfully detained at Rosetta Police Station in Beheira Governorate. They have been held at the police station since 14 April 2014, when Egyptian security forces arrested them after they abandoned a treacherous Mediterranean Sea crossing in an attempt to reach Europe.

    “Forcibly sending back refugees and asylum seekers who have sought safety in Egypt is a cruel betrayal of the authorities’ international obligation to offer protection to refugees. If any of them are returned to Syria their lives could be in grave danger,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    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.

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