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Egypt

    June 23, 2020

    Egyptian security forces today whisked away human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience Sanaa Seif from outside the Public Prosecutor’s office in New Cairo, where she was waiting to file a complaint after suffering a violent assault. 

    Sanaa Seif was taken to the office in Cairo of the Supreme State Security Prosecution, a branch of the Public Prosecution specialized in investigating national security threats. Family and supporters gathered outside the office subsequently learnt that prosecutors had questioned her over the charges of “disseminating false news”, “inciting terrorist crimes” and “misuse of social media.”

    Sanaa Seif’s brother, activist Alaa Abdel Fatah, has been in arbitrary detention since September 2019. On 22 June, Sanaa Seif, her mother and sister were waiting outside the Tora Prison Complex to receive a letter from him when they were beaten and robbed by a group of women armed with sticks, in full view of security forces. 

    April 20, 2020

    Nazik Kabalo is the founder of the Sudanese Women Human Rights Project. She fled to Egypt in 2011 after being detained for her human rights work. There she continued to face harassment and threats for her activism, and faced years of limbo as she sought refugee resettlement in the US. During Write for Rights 2018, Amnesty activists from around the world spoke out for her safety. Nazik was finally resettled to Canada recently. Here is her story. 

    Being a refugee is, for me, a matter of personal identity. Being a refugee is a statement of my struggle and the struggle of millions of other people around the world forced to leave their homes. Being a refugee is a reminder of the different global crises that drove us from our homes—conflicts, poverty, inequality, injustice, climate change, or sexual violence.

    April 16, 2020

    Ibrahim Ezz El-Din © Private

    DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF UA 104/19 HERE

    The health of human rights researcher Ibrahim Ezz El-Din has deteriorated, putting him at particular risk if exposed to COVID-19. Ibrahim remains in pre-trial detention in Tora prison following his arrest on 11 June 2019 and enforced disappearance for 167 days until his appearance in front of the Supreme State Security Prosecution on 26 November 2019. 

    March 02, 2020

    Responding to today’s death sentences of 37 defendants by the Cairo Criminal Court following their conviction on terrorism-related charges, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

    “There is no doubt that those sentenced to death today have been convicted of serious crimes, including deadly attacks. However, the death penalty can never deliver justice, all the more so when it has been issued after a trial in which dozens of defendants say they were subjected to enforced disappearance and torture. 

    “We are calling on the Egyptian authorities to retry the defendants in proceedings that comply with international human rights law and fair trial standards, without recourse to the death penalty.”

    Background

    February 24, 2020

    Amnesty International has received confirmation that the Egyptian authorities executed eight men in the early hours of this morning in Borg el-Arab prison in Alexandria. The men were among 17 defendants who were sentenced to death by a military court in October 2018, in relation to deadly attacks on three churches and a police checkpoint that killed 88 individuals.

    “The attacks on Coptic Christian churches and a police checkpoint in 2017 were appalling, and the perpetrators should be held to account for their crimes. But a mass execution is no way to deliver justice. These men were executed following an unfair military trial and amid allegations that they were subjected to enforced disappearances and torture. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial, regardless of the charges that they are facing,” said Phil Luther, Amnesty International’s MENA Research Director.

    October 10, 2019

    The torture in custody of Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and activist who rose to fame during the 2011 uprising, as well as the mistreatment of his lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer, are chilling illustrations of the ruthless tactics the Egyptian authorities are prepared to use to silence critics, said Amnesty International today.

    Following his arrest on 29 September during the authorities’ latest crackdown, Alaa Abdel Fattah was transferred to Egypt’s notorious Tora maximum security prison 2, known as al-Aqrab 2 - where prison officers blindfolded him, stripped him of his clothing, beat and kicked him repeatedly, and subjected him to threats and verbal abuse.

    One police officer told him prison was “made for people like you”, adding that he would be in prison for the rest of his life. A National Security Agency officer warned he would face further torture if he reported the abuse.

    July 31, 2019

    The Egyptian authorities must immediately end cruel and inhumane detention conditions and allow regular family visits at al-Aqrab maximum security prison in Tora where approximately 130 detainees have gone on a mass hunger strike for more than six weeks, said Amnesty International today. Many of those on strike were arrested more than two years ago and have not been allowed a single visit from their families or lawyers.

    In response to the hunger strike, which began on 17 June, authorities have retaliated against the detainees by beating them, applying electric shocks with tasers and punished some of them with disciplinary measures, in an effort to coerce them to end their strike, according to a statement issued by detainees from prison. At least 10 hunger-strikers were blindfolded and transferred to special cells which they are not allowed to exit all day. 

    July 10, 2019

    The Egyptian authorities’ growing trend of re-imprisoning people who have been arbitrarily detained, instead of complying with court orders to release them is an alarming signal of how decayed the country’s justice system has become, said Amnesty International.

    The organization has documented the cases of five individuals, where the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) bypassed court orders to release them from arbitrary detention by imprisoning them in new cases based on fabricated charges, in a bid to keep them behind bars indefinitely.

    “The Egyptian authorities’ practice of re-ordering the detention of detainees on blatantly fabricated charges just as they are about to be released is an alarming trend that illustrates the extent of Egypt’s decayed justice system,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    “This unlawful practice has seen detainees who were already detained on spurious grounds trapped in the ‘revolving doors’ of Egypt’s arbitrary detention system, as part of deliberate ploy to prolong their detention.” 

    July 02, 2019

    The Egyptian authorities are attempting to normalize human rights violations by passing a series of laws to “legalize” their escalating crackdown on freedom of expression, association and assembly, said Amnesty International, six years since recently deceased former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from power on 3 July 2013.

    The organization has today published a damning overview of human rights in Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s ascent to power, which has been submitted to the UN Human Rights Council ahead of Egypt’s upcoming periodic review of its human rights record in November.

    June 17, 2019

    Responding to the news of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s death in custody today Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

    "The news of Mohamed Morsi’s death in court today is deeply shocking and raises serious questions about his treatment in custody. The Egyptian authorities must immediately order an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances of his death, as well as his detention conditions and his ability to access medical care.  

    "Egyptian authorities had the responsibility to ensure that, as a detainee,he had access to proper medical care.

    May 17, 2019

    The arbitrary detention of labour rights lawyer, Haytham Mohamdeen, and former political activist, Mostafa Maher, this week has raised fears that the Egyptian authorities might be embarking on a fresh crackdown targeting peaceful dissent or individuals with history of activism, said Amnesty International.

    “These latest arrests have reignited a climate of fear amongst independent activists and human rights organizations about a renewed assault by the Egyptian authorities on the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. 

    April 08, 2019

    Egypt’s authorities must end their crackdown against critics who oppose amendments to the Egyptian constitution, proposed by members of parliament, that will strengthen impunity for human rights violations, said Amnesty International. Many of those who have criticized the changes have been arrested or publicly vilified in the media.

    The organization is today publishing an analysis of the constitutional amendments which are currently being discussed by the Egyptian parliament. If passed, these measures will undermine the independence of the judiciary, expand military trials for civilians and could allow President Abdel Fattah to stay in power until 2034.

    “If passed, these constitutional amendments would worsen the devastating human rights crisis Egyptians are already facing. They would grant President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and security forces free rein to further abuse their powers and suppress peaceful dissent for years to come,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    March 07, 2019

    Update:

    On 7 March Malak al-Kashef appeared in front of a Supreme State Security Prosecutor, who ordered her detention for 15 days pending investigations for “aiding a terrorist organization” and “misusing social media to commit a crime punishable by law”. The police then took her to an undisclosed location, where they detained her incommunicado until 10 March, when her lawyer was able to confirm that the police is detaining her in solitary confinement at al-Haram police station in Giza. Her detention is up for renewal again on 19 March, when the prosecutor will decide whether to release her or extend her detention.

     *****

    Fears are growing for the safety and wellbeing of Malak al-Kashef, a transgender woman seized during a police raid from her home in Giza in the early hours of 6 March and who has not been heard from since, Amnesty International said.

    Malak al-Kashef was taken by police to an undisclosed location. Her lawyers have not been able to locate her and police stations have denied she is in their custody.

    March 06, 2019

    An investigation by Amnesty International has revealed that dozens of Egyptian human rights defenders have been targeted by phishing attacks since the beginning of this year, putting them in grave danger amid Abdelfattah al-Sisi’s government’s intensifying crackdown on dissent.

    Since January 2019 Amnesty Tech has analyzed dozens of suspicious emails sent to Egyptian human rights defenders, journalists and NGOs. The organization found that the emails used a technique known as OAuth Phishing to gain access to private accounts, and that attacks spiked during key political moments such as the anniversary of Egypt’s uprising on 25 January. 

    “These digital attacks appear to be part of a sustained campaign to intimidate and silence critics of the Egyptian government. Over the past year Egyptian human rights defenders have faced an unprecedented assault from the authorities, risking arrest and imprisonment whenever they speak out, and these chilling attempts to target them online pose yet another threat to their vital work,” said Ramy Raoof, Tactical Technologist at Amnesty Tech.

    March 04, 2019

    Responding to the news that photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was finally released today after spending more than five years in prison on trumped-up charges, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director Najia Bounaim said:

    “Mahmoud Abou Zeid’s long overdue release brings to an end a painful ordeal for him and his family. As a prisoner of conscience, he should never have been forced to spend a single minute behind bars – let alone five and a half years.

    “After his release, he faces ludicrous probation measures which require him to spend 12 hours of each day at a police station from 6pm to 6am for the next five years. These outrageous measures will severely restrict his liberty and should be lifted immediately.

    “Mahmoud Abou Zeid was arrested and imprisoned solely for doing his job as a journalist. His conviction, more than five years later, on trumped-up charges during a grossly unfair mass trial alongside more than 700 other defendants was a mockery of justice.

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