UPR Review of Egypt
5 November 2014
As the UPR review of Egypt approaches, we would like to highlight some facts on the current situation in Egypt with regards to rights and freedoms as well as democracy. As we write this letter to you the Egyptian government continues to violate all rights and freedoms of all Egyptian citizens as well as foreigners and will continue to do so during the review.
We would like to give a quick review of Egypt’s democratic transition and the human rights situation in Egypt:
On January 25th, 2011, millions of Egyptians took to the streets to peacefully protest against decades of totalitarianism and corruption by the Mubarak government. They had hoped to create a different future for themselves and their children. They wished to create a society based on respect for human rights and democracy and to end the police state.
The military council ruled for a year and a half until Egyptians were finally able to hold the first democratic presidential elections which resulted in the winning of President Mohamed Morsi.
Only one year later a military coup took place and Egypt’s first democratically elected president was abducted and remained in secret detention for more than five months, after which he appeared in court in a trial for different charges.
In addition to that nine former president’s aides and 240 elected parliamentarians were imprisoned including Dr Saad Katatny, the first democratically elected head of parliament. The Constitution was frozen, the Shura Council dissolved, a new repressive protest law was introduced which allowed the army and police to use live ammunition against peaceful protestors and resulted in the killing of thousands of civilians since the 3rd of July 2014. Tens of thousands were incarcerated for their political orientations and/or political views.
Critics to the government, journalists, bloggers, rights and political activists, and human rights defenders were imprisoned.
Politicians, members of opposition parties, Lawyers and human rights defenders including members of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) were detained in jails such as Dr Mohamed El-Beltagy and Mr Abdel Monem Abdel Maksou. The house of Mrs Manal El-Tibi, member of the NCHR was also raided and searched. Exceptional laws were introduced, and the right to freedom of assembly was violated and became a reason for anyone's arrest.
Women and children were killed, shot with live bullets, imprisoned and tortured inside prisons. Minors and young children were kept in illegal detention centres with adult criminals and tortured to confess crimes they did not commit.
Women and children were sexually harassed and raped in places of detention; an unprecedented phenomenon in Egypt, yet not a single perpetrator was brought to justice.
Almost all detainees have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment at the hands of security forces and prison authorities. Many have died in prison due to torture and health neglect. Detainees have been denied any medical care, visitation rights and were even banned from leaving their cells which lacked toilet facilities.
Hundreds of detainees entered an open hunger strike protesting their torture, ill-treatment and lack of medical care, yet they are still denied any medical care and their demands have not been met yet, although some of them are in critical situation and nearing death, such as Mohamed Soltan, Egypt’s longest hungerstriking detainee, Dr Ibrahim El-Yamany, Sanaa Seif, daughter of the late human rights defender Ahmed Seif El-Islam and many others.
Students were shot on university campuses, killed and arrested from their universities and houses at dawn. The first week of the school year resulted in the killing of one student, Omar Abdelwahab, on university campus in addition to the arrest of hundreds of students. Live bullets and birdshots were used against the students. Female students were abducted from the university premises, they were sexually harassed and bused inside university at the hands of security officers in order to terrorise them.
The numbers of those who have disappeared at the hands of security forces from their university, including the student Aliaa Tarek, is increasing dramatically. Their continues to be a lack of security on all levels.
With the introduction of new exceptional laws such as the law on protests, and with the ongoing violation to the right of freedom of expression, the number of prisoners of conscience have exceeded 40 thousand detainees in Egypt.
NGOs were attacked and a new law to register NGOs under the repressive Law on Associations (Law 84 of 2002) was implemented, threatening them to be shut down with threats of imprisonment in the case of failing to register. In response to these laws a number of international NGOs closed down its offices and made statements that democracy cannot be achieved in such atmosphere.
It is worth mentioning that this is also restricting rights and freedoms since these NGOs document human rights violations committed at the hands of current authorities, and with threatening these organizations to speak out, more violations will take place.
In October 2014, a new decree was introduced bearing No. 1 of 2013. The new law legitimizes military presence in civilian life under the pretext of protecting public property and state facilities in a new form of militarization of the state at large in Egypt. The new law also legitimizes military trials for civilians and crimes committed against these facilities which are to be referred to the military prosecutor and military courts. This exceptional law is similar to exceptional laws such as the demonstrations law and the emergency law which have a great impact on civil rights and freedoms.
All human rights were violated in breach of the Egyptian Constitution and the international laws and treaties to which Egypt was a party and areas of freedom shrunk to a minimum.
The Egyptian authorities dismissed tens of judges and opened disciplinary investigations for others; thus threatening other fair judges effecting their decisions made in court, while other judges were specifically appointed to rule in cases of political detainees.
Death sentences were handed to a wide range of detainees and both life and harsh sentences were given to those detained for protesting. The minimum standards of a fair trial have been missing ever since the military coup took place. High expectations of new death sentenced to be handed down to political prisoners in an unfair trials are increasing.
Furthermore, complete immunity was given to all offenders of crimes against humanity. Thousands of complaints by families of extrajudicial executions of their children at the hands of authorities have been filed and ignored. The lack of accountability allowed more violence to take place resulting in both police and societal violence.
Amidst all these violations, the current authorities have dismissed tens of judges and opened disciplinary interrogations m=with others, while others were appointed to specific cases of political detainees. The government’s decisions made with regards to the judiciary system, threatens justice and have a great impact on the rulings they make.
To date, freedoms continue to be violated as those who committed crimes against humanity are now governors of the country and dreams of a future democratic state seem to lie further away with the dawning of each new day.
We would like to take this opportunity and urge the Human Rights Council to provide the following recommendations at the UPR review on 5 November 2014:
• All death sentences must be lifted immediately due to the current lack of the minimum standards of a fair trial.
• The Egyptian authorities must abstain from using any kind of fire arms against the peaceful protesters.
• All political detainees, prisoners of conscience and those arrested for expressing their opinions must be released immediately and unconditionally.
• Torture and ill-treatment inside all prisons and all places of detention must end.
• The monitoring of prisons and all places of detention must be allowed for human rights organizations.
• Separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers must guaranteed
• Repressive laws such as the Protest law and the NGO law must be amended in accordance to international law.
• The Egyptian authorities must end immunity and open investigations into all crimes committed at the hands of security forces and inside prisons.
• The UN should send a fact-finding mission to Egypt to collect information and evidence on human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed in Egypt.
• The Egyptian authorities must respect its own laws as well as international treaties and convention to which it is a party.
• To ratify the Optional Protocol of the ICCPR, Optional Protocol of CAT and the International Convention For the Protection of all Persons Against Enforced Disappearance.
Finally, we would like to urge the Human Rights Council as well as the UN Mechanisms to denounce all human rights violations committed in Egypt and to comply with its mission as it is, without any political pressures.
Thank you for your consideration,
Human Rights Monitor