The Egyptian government accepts some recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council in February 2010, extends emergency law in May 2010
Member groups of the Forum of Independent Human Rights Organizations said that the Egyptian government persistently claims that it is engaged in a dialogue with independent human rights groups in Egypt to advance the status of human rights in the country. In fact, the Egyptian government engages with organizations close to it with the purpose of garnering their praise of the government’s performance and the positive steps it has taken to shore up human rights. When Dr. Mufid Shehab, the minister of state for legal and parliamentary affairs, invited Forum member groups to talk about human rights issues in Egypt, the dialogue that took place involved him informing these organizations what the Egyptian government had done in Geneva during the universal periodic review (UPR). There was no discussion on human rights issues nor steps that could be taken to advance human rights in Egypt, and he did not listen to the comments of independent organizations.
Freedom of opinion and expression in Egypt
February 19, 2010-June 1, 2010
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Egypt’s human rights record came up for review in the UN Human Rights Council under the UPR mechanism in February. The state of human rights in Egypt and the government’s fulfillment of its human rights obligations were discussed, after which the Human Rights Council submitted 165 recommendations. Of these recommendations, the Egyptian government accepted 119, lodging reservations on others, while postponing a discussion of 25 of them to June 2010, and rejecting some outright on the grounds that they were based on factual errors. Among the recommendations rejected were those concerned with the use of emergency law against journalists, bloggers, and political activists. Denials by the Egyptian government notwithstanding, the reality is that several activists and bloggers detained under the emergency law remain in Egyptian prisons, despite successive release orders issued by courts. The Egyptian government also continues to violate human rights despite its repeated pledges to improve the human rights situation in the country and take positive steps to empower citizens to exercise their rights.
1. Extension of the emergency law: For years the Egyptian government has justified the emergency law and stressed its importance in combating terrorism and drug trafficking. But since 1981, the uninterrupted application of the emergency law—supposedly a temporary, exceptional state of affairs—has been used by the government to arrest and detain activists, journalists, and political figures from across the ideological spectrum. Although the Egyptian government promised that the law would not be renewed and that it was preparing an alternative counterterrorism law, on May 11, 2010, the People’s Assembly again extended the emergency law for two years in the face of opposition from all reform and opposition forces. Similarly, although the Egyptian government claims that the law is only used in cases of terrorism and drug trafficking and pledged to release all those detained under the emergency law for any reason unconnected with terrorism or drug trafficking in early June 2010, this pledge has not been fulfilled. We have documented several cases in which the law was used against bloggers and non-violent activists engaged in neither terrorism nor drug trafficking. These people continue to be detained, among them:
- Blogger Musaad Abu Fagr: an activist from Sinai and the operator of the blog, We Want to Live, he was detained under the emergency law in 2007 and is still confined in an Egyptian prison.
- Blogger Hani Nazir: operator of the blog, Karz al-Hubb, Nazir, a Christian, was arrested on October 1, 2008, and is still detained under emergency law and without a court order because of his criticism of the novel Azazel.
- Student Tarek Khidr: a 21-year-old activist with the April 6 Youth Movement, he was arrested on Thursday, March 25, 2010, and is still confined in an Egyptian prison.
2. April 6 demonstrations and the ugly face of Egyptian security: The April 6 Youth Movement announced its intention to demonstrate to collectively express its opinion and publicly air its demands for constitutional reform and the abolition of emergency law. The movement chose ANHRI lawyers as their representative to take the legal measures necessary to organize a legal demonstration. ANHRI lawyers sent a notice to the Cairo security office informing it of the demonstration as is consistent with the law, which dictates that security authorities be informed but does not require their approval. Several days later, ANHRI received a notice from a bailiff informing the April 6 Youth Movement that the Cairo security office refused to allow the demonstration. The movement insisted on exercising its legitimate right to demonstrate and express its opinion, as a result of which Egyptian security forces violated several rights:
Demonstrators repressed and prohibited from assembling: on the morning of April 6, 2010, the streets of Cairo resembled a military barracks with security personnel deployed throughout the streets. Security harassed and questioned passersby by, arrested those seeking to reach the demonstration, dispersed assembled groups, and attacked demonstrators. Nearly 100 people were arrested.
Female police personnel used to harass female demonstrators: this demonstration saw a new phenomenon, as uniformed female security personnel were deployed to repress, beat, sexually harass, and disperse female demonstrators.
Journalists beaten and their cameras confiscated: although some skillful Egyptian bloggers, journalists, and activists managed to shoot photos and video footage that day, Egyptian security systematically attacked and beat journalists and removed them from the scene, confiscating every camera in sight, including in the following incidents:
- Cameras owned by the Jazeera crew were confiscated.
- A director with Egyptian television was detained and his camera confiscated.
- A citizen was beaten and brutalized in Alexandria and his personal camera confiscated.
- A journalist with al-Masry al-Youm was prohibited from making a phone call.
- A small tape recorder was confiscated from a French journalist.
A total of 33 demonstrators were prosecuted: all those arrested were released with the exception of 33 demonstrators who were tried before a court the following day. Although they received release orders, they were subjected to harassment and arbitrary measures for several days until their release.
The People’s Assembly issued only a modest reprimand of an MP who urged security forces to shoot demonstrators rather than prosecute them
3. Harassment of prisoners of conscience inside Egyptian prisons: The Egyptian government has not ceased its constant harassment of imprisoned activists and bloggers. In early May 2010, a group of police officers stormed the prison cell of blogger Karim Amer and confiscated the notebook he was using as a diary; he has also been denied visits numerous times.
4. Trumped-up charges and unfair trials of bloggers and journalists: Trumped-up charges and unfair trials of bloggers, writers, and journalists has become semi-routine in Egypt, and these practices continued in the period between February 19 and June 1, including the following cases:
Blogger Ahmed Mustafa tried before a military tribunal: the operator of the blog, What Has Happened to You, My Country, Mustafa wrote nearly a year ago about corruption in the military academy on his blog. He was questioned by the Military Prosecutor’s Office a year later and referred to a military court on trumped-up charges.
Wael Abbas tried twice in a fabricated case: Abbas was tried due to a dispute with the brother of a police officer.
Blogger Ahmed Douma tried in a fabricated case: he was tried for his participation in a peaceful demonstration.
A blogger and activist questioned pursuant to a police complaint fabricated with the help of a preacher at al-Azhar: he was questioned because of his participation in a peaceful demonstration at al-Azhar.
Journalist Ahmed Abu Ziyad was tried on trumped-up charges and sentenced to one year in prison: he was tried after objecting to his wrongful arrest by a police officer and several of his subordinates.
5. One-day detention: Egyptian State Security uses various means to intimidate activists, among them the tactic of one-day detention, whereby activists, journalists, or bloggers are abducted and detained for one day in an attempt to silence them. Examples include:
Ahmed Mihni, the owner of Dawwin Publishers: his home was raided and he was abducted for one day because of a book issued by his press about Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei and his dream of peaceful change.
A doctor in Fayyoum: detained and tortured because of his support for ElBaradei, he was later thrown in the street unconscious.
6. Harassment of bloggers at airports while trying to enter or leave the country: Bloggers Alaa and Manal were detained at the Cairo airport for several hours on Monday morning, April 19.
7. Hisba lawsuits: A hisba lawsuit was filed by a group of lawyers demanding the confiscation of The Thousand and One Nights, a canonical part of the Egyptian literary heritage.
8. Abuses against students inside universities:
One student arrested: State Security arrested 18-year-old student Ibrahim Megahed in March 2010 because of his wall magazine expressing solidarity with Gaza.
Three students arrested at Zaqaziq University: the students were arrested for their intention to organize a demonstration decrying the arrest of their fellow students.
9. Registry with the Journalists Syndicate and the charge of impersonating a journalist: This is an enormous obstacle facing journalists. While the law stipulates that a journalist can only be registered with the syndicate after he has worked a specific period of time as a professional journalist with an accredited newspaper, a person may face charges of impersonating a journalist if he practices journalism without being registered with the syndicate.
The case of Ezzat al-Beheiri, a journalist with the Fayyoum-based Zahra: pursuant to an accusation by another journalist, al-Beheiri was charged with impersonating a journalist by the secretary-general of the Journalists Syndicate. The appeal session is scheduled for July 17, 2010.
10. Continuation of criminal trials for journalists: For years President Hosni Mubarak has promised Egyptian journalists to abolish the penal provision allowing imprisonment for publication crimes, but journalists continue to be threatened by the specter of criminal trials and imprisonment. Journalists in Egypt face trial, imprisonment, crippling fines, and the closure of newspapers, while the Penal Code still contains some 35 articles allowing the prosecution of journalists on criminal charges. The following are examples of criminal cases pending against journalists:
- Libel charges against journalist Ahmed Abd al-Galil Mustafa
- Libel charges against journalists Ahmed Abu al-Kheir and Reda Awad
- Charges against journalist Amr Abd al-Radi due to an article he published about corruption in the Health Ministry
- Libel charges against Abd al-Halim Qandil, editor-in-chief of Sawt al-Umma, brought by the secretary of the National Democratic Party
- Libel charges against journalist Gamal Abd al-Hamid due to of an article he wrote
- Prosecution of journalists Fatima al-Zahra and Sally Hassan on charges of violation of privacy due to an investigative piece about faith healing
- Charges against Adel Hammouda, editor-in-chief of al-Fagr, and Hatem Abu al-Nour, a journalist at the paper
- Charges against a Moroccan national and journalist with Sawt al-Umma, Riham Atef
- Journalists Wael al-Ibrashi and Samar al-Dawi questioned due to a newspaper campaign against the property-tax law
- Dr. Ammar Ali Hassan questioned due to an article he wrote about an electoral deal between the opposition and the NDP
11. First libel suit for content published on Facebook: We have become accustomed to journalists, bloggers, or activists being charged in cases of conscience. Now there is a new development: regular citizens being charged because of materials or content posted on a Facebook page. For example: the chair of the Acting Professionals Syndicate Ashraf Zaki filed a libel suit against his colleague Hisham Baha al-Din after the latter wrote a short piece for his Facebook page titled “A Scandal in the Acting Professionals Syndicate,” in which he criticized the conduct of the syndicate board and the current chair.
Freedom of association in Egypt
February 19, 2010-June 1, 2010
New Woman Foundation
After the Egyptian government returned from Geneva, it announced that it would implement several recommendations made during the UPR in February, among them guarantees of protection for human rights defenders and promises for a revised NGO law that facilitates civil society activities and allows NGOs to operate freely. Despite this, a leak of the government-sponsored NGO bill revealed a draft law even more repressive and restrictive than the current law. The government also continued its policy of repression against NGOs and civil society activists.
1. On Tuesday morning, April 20, 2010, the Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services (CTUWS) received a surprise visit from a committee from the Ministry of Social Solidarity assigned to inspect the Center’s paperwork and activities. The committee, comprised of four civil servants of diverse backgrounds (administrative, accounting, and legal research, and chaired by an official with the title of “social inspector”), showed up at the center without prior notice. By order of the minister of social solidarity, it was charged with going to the CTUWS and examining the organization’s papers from April 20 to 22; the Social Solidarity Directorate in Helwan was not notified, according to the director.
Although such a committee is allowed by Article 20, paragraph 2 of the NGO law—one of the most disreputable provisions in that law which legalizes various violations of freedom of action by civil society—this measure is exceptional. Nevertheless, the committee refused to cite the reasons for its exceptional mission while the committee chair insisted on the ministry’s “absolute” right to inspect any NGO or association at any time and without cause.
The technical office of the Ministry of Social Solidarity then received a complaint against the CTUWS filed by Hussein Megawer, the chair of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation, with the Ministry’s NGO department, which referred the complaint to the Social Solidarity Directorate in Helwan for a response. The complaint demands an end to “infractions and violations” by the CTUWS. These infractions include a discussion by the CTUWS of Law 35/1976 on labor syndicates and its inconsistencies with international labor conventions. Megawer evidently believes that such an activity falls within those activities banned by Article 11 of the NGO law. Megawer filed the same complaint on October 30, 2008, just five months after the establishment of the CTUWS, and the center responded to the complaint at that time.
2. On May 4, 2010, while at the Cairo airport on his way to Italy, Kamal Abbas, the general coordinator of the CTUWS, was detained and had his passport confiscated by security personnel for more than an hour. The authorities offered no response or clear cause for this measure and later released Abbas with his passport to allow him to catch his flight. Abbas was detained ten months ago at the airport when trying to catch a flight out of the country.
3. The case of the Association of Ancient Egyptians for Human Rights is still pending, after the NGO was denied a permit under Article 11 of the NGO law (Law 84/2002). The case began on November 30, 2008, when several individuals filed an application with the Matariya Social Solidarity Office for a license to establish an NGO named the Association of Egyptian Veterans for Human Rights. After filing all the necessary documents and receiving approval from the regional federation, the group was denied a permit by the Matariya Social Solidarity Office in Memo 866, issued on May 19, 2009, based on a notice from the Social Solidarity Directorate, which included a memo from the Ministry’s general security office (no. 735, issued on May 12, 2009) noting that the association had been denied a permit due to security considerations pursuant to Article 11 of Law 84/2002.
4. The case of the Other Opinion Association for Human Rights and Development is still pending before the courts. The association founders had filed for a permit and were denied by the Ministry of Social Solidarity in December for security reasons, also pursuant to Article 11 of Law 84/2002. The group took the case to court in January 2010.
5. NGOs continue to be harassed and restricted. Last month a seminar on problems in Sudan sponsored by the Arab Program for Human Rights Activists was cancelled after the seminar was prohibited without cause, although it is believed the cause was security considerations.
6. In the wake of an Administrative Court ruling overturning a decree from the governor of Cairo and the minister of social solidarity dissolving the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid, the group resumed its activities offering support to victims of human rights abuses, particularly torture and maltreatment. Recently, AHRLA received an order from the West Cairo Social Solidarity Office suspending two general assemblies called by them: one scheduled for March 23, 2010, to discuss the repercussions of the dissolution and their activities in the coming period, and the other scheduled for June 1, 2010, to elect one-third of their board members. That the ministry is determined to obstruct the AHRLA’s activities is clearly illustrated by the fact that the justification given for the suspension of the general assemblies is not supported by the law.
In its memo, the West Cairo Social Solidarity Office demanded that the two general assemblies be postponed and that only one assembly be convened to conduct a vote on two-thirds of the members of the board. The first full election of the board took place on March 17, 2006, in accordance with Article 32 of Law 84/2002.
AHRLA responded that regarding the first general assembly, Article 27 of the NGO law stipulates that a regular convocation of the general assembly must take place at least once a year in the four months following the end of the NGO’s fiscal year for the purpose of reviewing the budget, the final accounts, the board’s report on the year’s activities, and the report of the comptroller, as well as to elect members of the board to replace those whose term has expired, appoint a comptroller and define his tasks, and conduct any other business that the board deems should be on the agenda. The article also allows the convocation of a regular general assembly whenever it is deemed necessary. Thus, NGOs have the right to convene an unspecified number of general assemblies as they deem fit, and the administrative body cannot violate this explicit provision in the law.
Regarding the second general assembly, the law stipulates that one-third of members of the board shall be elected every two years. Article 32 states that each NGO shall have a board composed of an odd number of members to number no less than 5 and no more than 15, in accordance with rules laid out in the articles of incorporation. The law further states that board members are to be chosen by the general assembly for six-year terms with one-third of members coming up for election every two years.
AHRLA replied that as of the ministry’s letter dated March 14, 2010, the board had not yet completed a term of four years so as to require the election of two-thirds of its members. To avoid any violation of the law, the board conducted an election for one-third of its members on February 28, 2010, while another third would come up for election after March 17, 2010, on the grounds that the period during which the NGO was dissolved are not considered (the governor of Cairo issued a decree disbanding the association on September 4, 2007, and the court overruled this order on October 26, 2008).
7. As part of the arbitrary steps taken by the administrative authorities against NGOs, six projects proposed by the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance were rejected by the Ministry of Social Solidarity, although the donors for the projects have funded previous projects with the center which were approved by the ministry. This indicates that the ministry’s rejection is unjustified.
Prisoners’ rights in Egypt
February 19, 2010-June 1, 2010
Human Rights Center for the Assistance of Prisoners
1. Hassan Sayyed Ahmed and Mohammed Mahmoud Abd al-Halim were arrested and charged with fraud according to a police report issued by the Badrashin police department. They were sentenced to six months imprisonment and bail was set at LE600 each. After they were transferred to the Badrashin police station, the bail was paid and an appeal was filed to secure their release. At this point, the chief of police concealed the two defendants inside the jail and refused to reveal their whereabouts; he also issued a detention order, even though the appeal was already set for April 15, 2010. The appeal was postponed to April 28, 2010, pursuant to request from the defendants’ attorneys, to corroborate the defendants’ detention.
2. We received a complaint on February 19, 2010, from the wife of detainee Ahmed Ibrahim Tamim. Tamim was arrested on October 25, 2008, and has secured several release orders, after which new detention orders have been repeatedly issued against him. We were informed that his health had deteriorated—his right arm is broken and was fixed with pins—and according to medical reports, he was urgently in need of surgery. He was also assaulted by a police corporal and the chief of police at the Raml police station in Alexandria after he received a release order, which was followed by a renewed detention order.
3. On July 13, 2009, Hamed Ali Khaled, Hassan Magdi Kamal, and Ramadan Saad Abd al-Hamid were arrested and detained by administrative order. Although they received release orders, these orders were not implemented and new detention orders were issued, motivated by the personal animus of the chief of police of the Omraniya police station.
4. We received a complaint from Osama Deif al-Sayyed, a citizen from Qalyoubiya, that an heir of the property in which his apartment is located, who works as a policeman with the presidential office, attacked and slandered him and then escorted him to the Qalyoub police station where he filed a police report alleging that al-Sayyed and his family had assaulted him. These actions were undertaken to force al-Sayyed and his family to leave their apartment. Al-Sayyed refused, stating that the contract will expire in 2010 and is subject to automatic renewal. The policeman threatened to assault his wife while al-Sayyed was detained at the police station if he did not renounce his claim to the apartment. Fearing for the safety of his wife and small children, he gave up the apartment. This abuse took place inside the police station which was witnessed and aided by other police officers.
5. We received a complaint from Mahmoud Ibrahim Mahmoud, the brother of prisoner Sayyed Ibrahim Mahmoud al-Saidi, who was serving a three-year prison sentence for selling drugs. The prisoner’s health had deteriorated (he had a cancerous tumor, fluid in his lungs, constant diarrhea and vomiting, and a distended liver and gall bladder). Despite his poor health, the administration at the Wadi Natroun Prison only responded to pleas from the prisoner and his family when his health became life threatening. He was transferred to the Qasr al-Aini Hospital, which initially refused to admit him due to his advanced poor health. The prisoner was later admitted and died two days later. He was 21 years old.
6. We received a complaint from Sumaya Abd al-Baset Ismail Mohammed saying that on March 14, 2010, while she was passing through Ramsis Square, a policeman arrested her and took her to the Azbakiya police station. There she was confronted by the chief of police and his aide, who beat her, shaved her head, put out cigarettes on her breast, and threatened that next time they would throw acid in her face if she did not withdraw a complaint she had filed against them.
7. Prisoner Amr Ahmed Atiya is an inmate at Shebin al-Kom Prison sentenced to death on April 15, 2007; an appeal against the sentence was accepted on December 15, 2009. His health has deteriorated recently due to assaults, beatings, and humiliations by prison police, during which he sustained a severe head injury.
8. We received a complaint from Itidal Saber Ali and Iman Ramadan Sayyed, the mother and sister of Sayyed Ramadan Sayyed, who has been charged with murder. He confessed to the crime at the Helwan police station after Yasser Shaltout, Ahmed Ibrahim, and Ammar Abd al-Hamid beat and humiliated his mother and sister in front of him. He initially refused to confess to the murder, after which the policemen ripped the clothes off his mother and sister. In her defense, his sister told the police that she was a virgin and this was improper, to which one policeman responded, “In three minutes, you won’t be a virgin anymore.” When the police began to assault her and tear her clothes, her brother yelled that he was prepared to sign any document they wanted. He did in fact sign a confession and was told that if he opened his mouth, his mother and sister were “not hard to find.”
9. We received a complaint from Saber Darwish Ramadan, the father of prisoner Ahmed Saber Darwish, an inmate at the Liman Tora Prison since January 23, 2008. The prisoner suffers from kidney failure and generally poor health, but the prison administration has not brought him to the prison doctor or a forensic physician for review for release for health reasons. In addition, prison officials attacked, sexually assaulted, and tortured the prisoner, as a result of which he sustained a head injury.
Shura Council elections
Inadequate legislation and a disappointing performance by the Supreme Electoral Commission
Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
1. Shura Council elections were conducted within a legislative framework that is inappropriate for a body that was granted legislative authority by the most recent constitutional amendments. Law 120/1980, which regulates the council, was appropriate when that body was a consultative one, but it is inconceivable that what is now a legislative body should have one-third of its members appointed by the president. There are also contradictions between Law 17/2008 on the exercise of political rights (amending Law 173/2005, which amended Law 73/1956), which gives authority to oversee elections to the Supreme Electoral Commission, and Law 120/1980 on the Shura council, which gives the Interior Ministry the right to oversee voter registration, nomination, and the amending of electoral districts for the Shura Council elections. This latter prerogative has created major problems in Shura Council elections since the establishment of four new governorates, and the Interior Ministry’s redrawing of electoral districts has sparked complaints from opposition groups who say that they have made it harder for opposition candidates to be elected. The Shura Council elections also use the individual candidate system, which gives undue influence to capital and partisan formations and does not allow for the fair representation of women, Copts, and all political parties. The state has ignored demands from the political elite and rights groups to replace the individual candidate system with a proportional list system. Moreover, no quota has been allotted for women in the Shura Council, in contrast to the most recent changes to election regulations in the People’s Assembly.
2. The performance of the Supreme Electoral Commission was disappointing. The commission did not implement court rulings obtained by many independent and opposition candidates that would have allowed them to re-register their candidacy after they had been arbitrarily disqualified (in the districts of al-Attarin, Bab Sharq, Muharram Bek, and Qism al-Labban in Alexandria, and several candidates in the Dessouq district). Nor did the commission implement the court ruling disqualifying the NDP candidate in the Kafr al-Sheikh district. The commission did not implement court rulings obtained by opposition candidates allowing them to grant power of attorney to their representatives, although rulings from the Administrative Court are to be implemented with their issuance and are not suspended simply by the act of contestation. The commission refused to give permits to civil society groups allowing them to monitor the elections without them showing clear legal cause, although they filed the necessary paperwork. Administrative bodies and executive security bodies also committed several flagrant violations throughout the election process without any intervention by the commission.
3. NDP candidates used state funds for their campaigns, and civil servants and NDP supporters were brought in to polling stations on state-run transportation. NDP candidates also used religious institutions, schools, hospitals, youth centers, and sports facilities in their campaigns, all of which are state-owned, public facilities.
4. Security arrested 300 supporters of various candidates and used excessive force to disperse electoral marches, citing rioting, in the districts of Housh Eissa and Abu al-Matamir in the Beheira governorate. A tight security cordon was imposed around polling stations in the governorate of Helwan in the districts of al-Qanater al-Kheiriya and Bandar al-Mansoura, where voters were denied access to polling stations.
5. On election day a various amount of violations and abuses took place. Ballots were crossed out, and the legal representatives of opposition and independent candidates were denied access to polling stations. There were acts of violence and bullying, the supporters of some candidates were kidnapped, and some media were prohibited from covering the events. Heads of polling stations—employees of the executive authority—were also unable to prevent interventions by security and administrative bodies on behalf of NDP candidates.
A diary of torture and maltreatment in Egypt
February 19, 2010-June 1, 2010
Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
The following notes are the collected diaries of individuals—Egyptians and non-Egyptians, women and men, young and old—who have recently endured abuses by the Egyptian Ministry of Interior under the emergency law, which protects criminals and denies victims their right to justice.
February 18 Egyptian security in the Muharram Bek police station beat and abuse a man and five women. One woman is threatened with rape by Mohammed Omran, the chief of police.
February 19 Blogger Ahmed Douma disappears from the Arish (2) police station more than 16 days after completing his jail term. His friends ask about him at the State Security headquarters. No one knows where his is, and after being mistreated, he is released.
February 21 Nagla Shiha, a housewife and the mother of Adham Sameh, files a complaint with the Public Solicitor’s Office accusing a police chief of detaining her four-year-old son with criminals and convicts in the police station. The Public Solicitor refers the complaint (no. 2742) to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for investigation.
February 22 al-Youm al-Sabi reports that an officer with the Canadian intelligence is visiting Egypt on behalf of a Canadian federal commission investigating the torture of Canadian national of Egyptian origin, Ahmed al-Maati and two other Canadian nationals of Arab origin.
February 23 Lawyer Muntasir al-Zayyat accuses State Security police of torturing suspects in the Hezbollah cell case.
February 23 The administration at Wadi Natroun Prison refuses to transfer inmate Mohammed Fathi Mahmoud to the Manyal Hospital for treatment for kidney failure.
February 23 University guards attack more than 300 female nurses and medical aides who had organized a protest in front of the Tanta University Hospital.
February 23 The home of lawyer Mustafa Subhi is raided and his sons, Mohammed (21) and Wahid (19) are arrested.
February 24 Although the release procedures for blogger Ahmed Kamal were completed, he is still detained in the Arish police station.
February 26 Seven parents are arrested by security and held as hostages to compel their children, students, to turn themselves in.
February 26 al-Dustour reports that dozens of disabled individuals were detained without charge the previous day.
February 26 al-Shorouk reports that lawyer Mustafa Subhi was arrested when he went to the Interior Ministry to protest the arrest of his two sons three days earlier.
March 8 Security forces use paid thugs and convicted criminals to break up a conference in support of constitutional reform.
March 9 Taha Abd al-Tawwab, a doctor working in physical therapy in Fayyoum, is kidnapped, tortured, stripped, and threatened with murder.
March 10 Jihan Mohammed is executed in the Qanater Prison for the crime of murder without notice being given to her family.
March 12 Masrawy online reports that a detective in Port Said in the al-Raswa area shoots Mustafa Saadawi, a child, in the belief that he is a smuggler. The child is paralyzed as a result of the injury to his spinal cord.
March 14 Security forces attack a peaceful assembly of 400 citizens with special needs in front of the Cairo governorate building.
March 15 Amnesty International learns that an Egyptian man who may have been wrongfully convicted of murder has been executed by hanging in Cairo.
March 15 al-Youm al-Sabi reports that a policeman assaulted a citizen and put him in a coma in Menoufiya.
March 16 Ikhwan Online reports that al-Azhar guards attack six female students in Zaqaziq.
March 18 Security forces launch their second attack on the home of Ahmed Mohammed al-Khadal, a prominent Muslim Brother in Rosetta in the Beheira governorate, and arrest him.
March 20 Defendants in the Zeitoun terrorism case expose signs of torture on their bodies before the judge, who refers six of them to the forensic physician.
March 22 Security forces kidnap Khaled Saad, a prominent Muslim Brother in Housh Eissa.
March 22 A Muslim Brother in Kom Hamada is arrested and detained for 15 days.
March 23 Human rights groups and liberties committees condemn the arrests of prominent Muslim Brothers.
March 23 A disabled man is illegally detained for more than three weeks in the Mansoura (1) police station.
March 25 al-Dustour reports that a mentally ill Egyptian resident of Heliopolis with US citizenship dies in the Heliopolis police station as a result of abuse and torture.
March 25 Zeitoun police arrest Karim Mohammed Reda, one of the operators of the Enough Torture Facebook group.
March 25 Security personnel attack attorneys to disrupt the popular mock trials being held at the Nahri Journalists’ Club.
March 25 State Security captain Ahmed Ezz al-Zayyat, 28, verbally and psychologically attacks the wife and children of accountant Mohammed al-Sharqawi.
March 26 Hamdi Taha, a reporter who works with several newspapers, is arrested at dawn.
March 27 Egyptian police kill two Eritrean asylum seekers, ages 31 and 33, as they try to cross the border into Israel.
March 28 A woman complains that police officers from the Mansoura (1) station have detained her husband, Misbah al-Sayyed Mohammed al-Shahhat, who is paralyzed, after he had been released in a case involving trumped-up charges.
March 29 Security forces raid the office of Dr. Ashraf Wagdi and arrest him for unknown reasons.
March 30 State Security police in Rosetta arrest Mohammed al-Madani, a reporter for Nahdet Misr in Alexandria; Islam Rifai and Suheib Ragab, both members of the Shehab Human Rights Center in Alexandria; and Ahmed al-Khadal in the latter’s home in Rosetta.
March 30 An Eritrean national is shot and killed by Egyptian police while trying to cross the border into Israel.
March 30 In a flagrant challenge of court orders, the Ministry of Interior issues a detention order for seven Muslim Brothers in Gharbiya.
March 31 Police beat to death a villager in Minya.
April 1 Over the past four days Egyptian border guards have shot and killed three migrants trying to cross the border to Israel.
April 2 Pharmacist Haitham Mahmoud Ahmed accuses the deputy chief of police at the Shubra al-Kheima (2) station (Rami A.) of stealing LE15,000, generic drugs, and medical preparations from his pharmacy and beating and insulting him and his wife.
April 3 The April 6 Youth Movement has come under constant security threat since it was announced that movement members would launch a campaign to collect signatures for the National Association for Change petition.
April 3 A twelve-year-old girl, S., is raped by 3 young men and a policeman.
April 4 A student at Ain Shams University is arrested for calling for protests on April 6.
April 4 Fifteen students affiliated with the Muslim Brothers are expelled from the Tanta branch of Azhar University; the remand of 21 leaders and members of the Brothers is extended.
April 6 Officer Muhab Radwan in Damanhour attacks student Basma Mahmoud Baagar.
April 7 The Ministry of Interior issues a detention order for Hamdi Taha, a teacher at the al-Aqqad Secondary School for Boys.
April 7 Students in Menouf are tortured and beaten in the police station by police, led by officer Ahmed al-Sayyad.
April 8 Islam Ahmed Sayyed Ibrahim is arrested by Imbaba police for refusing to work as an informant; he is framed for possession of a knife and illegal drugs.
April 8 Security forces attack more than 200 people with claims to housing at the Damanhour city council.
April 11 A police chief sexually assaults ten citizens as a favor to businessman after they refuse to sell their land to him.
April 12 The Public Prosecutor receives a complaint accusing Dar al-Salam police of torturing and assaulting a housewife and stealing her jewelry.
April 12 Security in Menoufiya arrests 23 university students affiliated with the Muslim Brothers.
April 13 Mubarak security forces brutally and indiscriminately assault demonstrators, both men and women, during a protest called by Kifaya in front of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
April 13 Four people are arrested and taken away in a taxi (Cairo no. 379); Dr. Mohammed al-Beltagi, a Muslim Brother MP is attacked; Janette Abd al-Alim is beaten.
April 13 Baha Saber is kidnapped from in front of the High Court and taken to the Boulaq Abu al-Ela police station, where he is beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted, and photographed before being referred to the Azbakiya prosecutor’s office for questioning.
April 13 A bullet fire by a police office hits preparatory student Mustafa Saadawi, rendering him a quadriplegic.
April 14 The chief of police at the al-Gharbiniyat Prison verbally abuses lawyer Mahmoud al-Eissawi.
April 14 State Security police in Assyout arrest 20 members of a Sufi order.
April 15 Egyptian police shoot an Eritrean national, 42, as he attempts to cross the border into Israel.
April 18 The owner of a phone store on al-Thalathini St. in al-Haram accuses Omraniya police of torturing him for five hours in his shop.
April 19 Kifaya activist Ali Mohammed Awad is again arrested.
April 19 For the third time security forces attack those with claims to housing in Damanhour.
April 20 Police at the Arish (2) station refrain from serving a warrant against MP Nashaat al-Qassas, who demanded that demonstrators be shot.
April 20 One African is killed and two others injured while trying to cross into Israel near the Rafah border crossing.
April 21 State Security forces launch several fierce raids against public action leaders in Menoufiya, leading to the arrest of eight activists.
April 22 Public Prosecutor Abd al-Megid Mahmoud refers five Muslim Brother leaders, among them preacher Wagdi Ghoneim, to the Emergency High State Security Court (criminal).
April 22 Two members of the Ghad Party in Beheira are arrested for posting fliers announcing an assembly with Ayman Nour, Mohamed ElBaradei, and Hamdin Sabahi.
April 24 A citizen is tortured after he rushes a traffic officer to return his confiscated driver’s license.
April 24 Ain Shams University security detains three students in the security office of the Faculty of Humanities after they participated in a student exhibition about constitutional reform.
Violations of women’s rights and religious discrimination
February 19, 2010-June 1, 2010
Andalus Center for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
The appointment of women judges:
The entry of women into the Egyptian judiciary is one of the most problematic women’s rights issues in Egypt, as evidenced by events that ultimately led to the appointment of a woman as a judge with the Constitutional Court followed by the appointment of women judges to family courts. The issue came to the fore again when judges with the State Council refused to accept women in that judicial body on the grounds that women are unsuited for the work and that previous experiments in the family courts have failed and thus should not be repeated by the Ministry of Justice. This stance directly contravenes Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which upholds equality before the law among all individuals, as well as Article 8, 11, and 40 of the Egyptian constitution, which upholds the right of all citizens to assume public positions without regard to gender.
The head of the State Council has agreed to the appointment of women, while the General Assembly and Special Council are opposed. The debate prompted Egyptian rights organizations and human rights activists to demonstrate in front of the State Council and issue statements expressing their rejection of the decision to prohibit women from judgeships at the State Council. The head of the Cabinet later asked the Constitutional Court for a legal opinion on the appointment of women judges to the State Council and to explain various aspects of the State Council law. The Constitutional Court stated unequivocally that the term “Egyptian” applies equally to men and woman.
No decision has been made thus far, rendering the Egyptian government non-compliant with international conventions and the national constitution.
1. Religious violence: religious violence between Muslims and Christians took place in Marsa Matrouh, and similar incidents have been seen numerous times in the last few years all over Egypt. The violence ended without the state offering any real solution, as official reconciliation meetings were convened between clerics from both sides.
2. Documentation of religion: Egypt requires its citizens to document their religion on official documents, which has spawned numerous lawsuits from people attempting to change their religion or claim a religion which is not officially recognized by the state. One illustrative case involved a court ruling denying a petition to document the religion of two children as Christian, on the grounds that conversion certificates from the church are immaterial and there is no legal compulsion for the Ministry of Interior and Civil Status Authority to accept conversion certificates for the two children. This violates the children’s rights as elaborated in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which upholds the right of individuals to choose and change their religion, as well as Articles 1 and 46 of the Egyptian constitution, which make citizenship the foundation of the state and uphold freedom of belief.
In another case, a lawyer filed a lawsuit against the state asking that the slot for religion on official documents in Egypt be abolished, arguing that it undermines equality among Egyptians. In another violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Egyptian constitution, the suit was rejected.
The Administrative Court has postponed a lawsuit filed by Muslims seeking to change their religion to Christianity on their national identity cards until it receives a legal opinion on some articles of the civil status law from the Constitutional Court.
3. Freedom of travel and movement: Egyptian authorities stopped an Egyptian traveling to Kuwait because he was carrying proselytizing materials; the materials were impounded and he was allowed to travel. This act clearly constitutes religious discrimination, as Egyptian Muslims are allowed to travel abroad carrying proselytizing materials.
From the foregoing it is clear that the Egyptian government is not honoring international covenants or the national constitution. The Egyptian government’s decision to adopt certain recommendations during the February UPR should be viewed with skepticism, as these will likely be ignored like all other provisions in international conventions and the national constitution. Moreover, the government largely accepted recommendations formulated in general terms that require no specific government commitment or step, a reflection of the lack of desire on the part of the government to effect any change or improve the human rights situation in Egypt.
Violations of the freedom of religion and belief
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
The Egyptian government committed itself to protecting and strengthening the right to freedom of religion and belief and actively responding to cases of sectarian violence, particularly against Copts. This has not happened in the past months, which have seen several incidents of sectarian violence (whose perpetrators were not held criminally liable), restrictions on the freedom to practice religious rites, and persistent security harassment of Shiites and Ahmadis.
Attacks in Matrouh go unpunished
The homes and property of Copts in a rural area of the Marsa Matrouh governorate came under heavy attack for several hours on Friday, March 12. According to EIPR investigations, violence erupted after the Orthodox Church built a wall blocking a passage between its services building and a plot of land behind it, also owned by the church. Hundreds of Muslims assembled bearing iron bars, gasoline, firebombs, stones, and wooden clubs and attempted to break into the services building. When they failed to breach the gates, they went into the area streets, which boast a heavy Christian presence (the area is an informal region and its streets are not zoned or planned). Attacks on Copts and their property lasted from 6 pm until midnight, during which 24 Copts and 1 Muslim were injured, along with 3 security recruits. In total, 17 homes and 4 workshops were burned and destroyed, 4 cars were completely torched, and 13 other cars and 2 motorcycles were damaged.
Eyewitnesses told the EIPR that security forces surrounding the services building arrested 38 people, among them 15 Copts. All were released on March 25 after a reconciliation meeting was held on March 17, although the law does not permit reconciliation for criminal acts and requires the prosecutor’s office to complete its investigations and refer the case to trial.
Attacks in Shubra al-Kheima go unpunished
On Friday, May 30, a plot of land owned by the Shubra al-Kheima bishopric in the village of Miyyit Nama, located in the Qalyoub district of Qalyoubiya, was attacked by Muslim villagers to prevent the construction of a services building. Christian clerics in the area told the EIPR that the bishopric had bought the land in 2002 for the construction of a services building to serve five nearby villages that have no churches. They added that the bishopric submitted a request to the administrative authorities on February 15, 2002, and it was approved, but State Security police with the Ministry of Interior refused to approve the construction until May 23, 2010, when security leaders gave “oral consent” for the construction of a wall around the land in preparation for the construction of the building. Eyewitnesses told the EIPR that after the Friday prayer some 2,000 Muslim locals filled in the hole dug for the foundation, laid mats on it, and conducted the afternoon prayer on the site despite a heavy security presence. Security did not intervene to stop the demonstrators and arrested no suspects. The sources added that the land is currently under security guard and construction has been suspended.
Christians arrested on charges of proselytizing
On Friday, May 21, forces from the al-Amiriya police station in Alexandria arrested seven evangelical Christians on charges of proselytizing, among them Father Maged Bushra, the visitation pastor at the evangelical church in al-Attarin. The suspects were transferred to the State Security office and brought before a prosecutor, who questioned them. They were released on Sunday, May 23. Some religious officials who spoke to the EIPR said that security forces arrested the group while they were inside the home of a Christian woman in the area. The sources said that they were not proselytizing among Muslims, as security claimed, but rather carrying out the visitation ministry with Christians in the area. The sources said that the security authorities treated them like criminals, although in any case there is no law against proselytizing in Egypt.
Security continues to harass Shiite Muslims
State Security police forces attacked the home of Abd al-Wali Nasr in the village of Salwa Bahari, located in the Kom Ombo district of the Aswan governorate, after midnight on March 16, on the grounds that he belongs to the Jaafari Shiite confession. A search of the house lasted until 3 am, during which time forces confiscated hundreds of books from his library. He was detained from Wednesday, March 17, until Sunday, March 21, during which he was pressured by security to renounce his beliefs and stop his attacks on Wahhabism.
Ahmadis arrested on charges of showing contempt for religion
State Security police on March 15, 2010, launched an arrest campaign during which several Ahmadis were arrested in six governorates (Cairo, Qalyoubiya, Sohag, Minya, Menoufiya, and Qena). Nine individuals were arrested and several books and computers were confiscated. Information obtained by the EIPR indicates that four others were arrested as part of the arbitrary campaign and that they were released a few days later. The same sources told the EIPR that the nine detainees were held in various State Security facilities for six weeks without being charged or brought before any judicial body. Several detainees said they were tortured, beaten, and given electroshocks during the first days of their detention in State Security facilitates. In late April, the detainees were brought before the High State Security Prosecutor and charged with showing contempt for the Islamic religion, under Article 98(f) of the Penal Code.
The Forum of Independent Human Rights Organizations
Members of the forum:
The Association for Human Rights Legal Aid, the Egyptian Association for the Advancement of Community Participation, Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners, CTUWS , The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the New Woman Foundation, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Group for Human Rights Legal Aid, Land Center for Human Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, El Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of victims of violence and Torture, Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence, Hisham Mubarak Law Center , the Arab Organization for Penal Reform, Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights.