Security forces, including the police and the army who were responsible for securing the polling stations, have reportedly committed the highest number of violations with 24 cases. Police personnel committed 10 cases; military personnel were responsible for 6 cases while government officials were responsible for 15 while 5 violations by civilians (candidates' supporters and representatives) were documented.
HRM received complaints stating three journalists in Arish, were arrested while covering the electoral process, namely Murad Hijazi, from the Tahrir newspaper, Al-Masry Al-Youm’s Sinai correspondent Ahmed Abou Deraa and Mohamed Abdul Azim from Veto online on November 21st. Veto and Tahrir reporters were released while Abou Deraa was released on Tuesday morning from the Military intelligence building in Cairo and the reasons behind his arrest remain unknown.
Violations included physical and verbal abuse, arrests, investigations and the prevention of journalists from performing their job. Others had their equipment confiscated and material was erased from recorded reports.
Preventing from covering:
On November 21st, 2014, the first day of the second phase of the elections collective banning took place as journalists were prevented from covering the electoral process. Thirteen were banned from separate polling booths while 8 other incidents took place. Security forces responsible for securing the polling stations prevented Mohamed Gameel from "Qalb Masr' from performing his job and journalist Mohamed Hussein Abo Attia from covering the Arish region in North Sinai. Sada elbalad reporter was also banned and candidate supporters also stood in the way of polling stations in the Sayeda Zeinab district in Cairo, In Shobra both police and army personnel prevented Yosra Salama from performing her job.
Twenty other cases were documented where security banned journalists from doing their job on the second day of the second phase of the parliamentary elections. In Daqahleya, journalist Fayza Ahmed was not allowed to cover the day and security forces also banned Mustafa Alnagar from Alyoum from taking photographs. Military forces in Helwan also followed the same measures as they banned Ahmed Algamal from Sherouk newspaper and Karim Rabie from Masr Arabia newspaper attending the counting of the casted votes. Photographs taken in the Sahel and Quba Gardens stations were also deleted from cameras belonging to Abdul Rahman Albeshary from Bawaba News and Mohamed Ragab from Almal newspaper.
Physical and verbal assault and threats:
Sada elbalad journalist was verbally abused by candidate representatives as she performed her job in the Qasr el Nil district and one nominee from Sayeda Zeinab district threatened the Dostour reporter Ola Ghazal and told her to remove all footage from her camera. Mohamed Abdul Gawad, Mohamed Diab and Mustafa Saadawy had their cameras confiscated however were able to retrieve their equipment.
On November 23rd, forces securing the polls threatened journalists of confiscating their equipment if they were to film the polls in the Ain shams area in Cairo. A military officer also warned journalists Ahmed Algamal and Karim Rabee that their camera would be taken and a computer was destroyed to prevent them from covering the elections.
Arrests and interrogations:
Abdul Gawad Mohamed and Mustafa Saadawy were both arrested while covering the elections in Helwan. They were taken to the Almaasara police station and were released 2 hours later following investigations regarding their ID. Mustafa Diab was also arrested after filming the polls; he too was released. Ahmed Abdul Hady was taken to the Alzawya Hamra police station after an argument broke out between him and a police officer for covering the process. A report was opened and he was referred to prosecution which ordered his release the following day and a 500 LE bail was paid.
Violations continued into the next day as security forces arrested Mustafa Alnagar at the Tora polling station. He remained in custody over 2 hours after a candidate accused him of working with Aljazeera channel. Following investigations regarding his ID he was released.
Such actions are a violation and military, police forces and several candidate supporters engaged in breaching the national constitution and international covenants regarding freedom of speech. Article 9 in particular of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was ignored it asserts :
1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgement.
4. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.
5. Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
It is worth noting that HRM documented 44 cases of violations against journalists in the first phase of the parliamentary elections which took place on the 18th and 19th of October, 2015. Preventing journalists from covering the elections remained the most repeated violation by military and police personnel along with candidate supporters and representatives.
HRM stresses that many other violations took place as eye witnesses relayed accounts however many assaults were not documented since there were so many.
HRM calls on the Egyptian authorities to respect international and domestic laws, agreements and covenants regarding freedom of speech and expression of opinion. It urges them to protect journalists performing their job and guaranteeing their rights as mandated in the constitution.