The annual report of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) in Egypt (governmental) recognized the existence of torture by the Egyptian authorities. The NCHR called for amending the criminalization of torture and ill- treatment in the Penal Code to increase the penalties for those convicted of the crime of torture. At the same time, he acknowledged the existence of restrictions and restrictions on public freedoms in the country. The Egyptian authorities always deny the existence of torture against detainees and prisoners, whether in prisons or detention facilities and it claims from time to time that freedoms are unprecedented during the era of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The report, which covers the period from May 2018 to July 2019, indicated that the period he monitored by NCHR witnessed violations and restrictions, despite what he described as the remedies and the accounting measures are taken. He pointed out that “there are many categories of victims who do not qualify as defendants, such as suspects or relatives of the accused who are used to pressure the accused”.
The report of the National Council for Human Rights confirmed that “There are places of detention that are not subject to any supervision by the judicial authorities, such as mental hospitals” NCHR also stressed “the necessity of the independence of forensic medicine in light of its crucial role in directing cases of torture and providing it with the capabilities it needs to fulfill its responsibilities”. The Council confirmed that” public freedoms in the country were subjected to a narrowing of the public sphere during 2016 and 2017, through measures of a restrictive nature that created a general sense of a significant decline in the margin of freedoms”. The report considered that despite taking a number of important steps to address these problems, the most important of which were amending the protest law, issuing the civil societies law, amending the union law and forming media institutions. The report pointed out that the country needs more measures that confirm that state to open the way to freedoms Expression, assembly and organization. NCHR pointed out that what confirms the need for this “the approaching electoral events to the House and Senate (parliament) and preparing for local council elections”.
On freedom of opinion and expression, the report emphasized that “the measures taken by the Supreme Council for the Organization of Media tend to restrict freedoms”. The report mentioned an example of this by the Council’s sanctions list, which included loose expressions that allow the possibility to withdraw licenses, prevent broadcasting and blocking of media institutions and websites, and measures that impose some kind of unhealthy oversight of what is circulating, and take practical measures to activate this by blocking some newspapers and websites. The report of the National Council for Human Rights criticized the non-issuance of the Freedom of Information Act, stressing that despite the availability of two draft laws, neither of them was considered by the Council of Ministers, nor was any other project presented to the House of Representatives, which constitutes a major gap in providing the elements of freedom of opinion and expression. Regarding deaths resulting from torture in detention facilities, the report confirmed that the Council received a number of complaints of torture, expressing its concern about the decline in the penalties imposed on those convicted of the crimes of torture that some trials have concluded since the end of 2018.
The NCHR renewed the call to the Egyptian authorities to “amend the criminalization of torture and ill-treatment in the Penal Code in order to increase the penalties for those convicted of the crime of torture, the inadmissibility of using clemency to lower the level of penalties, and the need to implement the dependency penalties that require the dismissal of a public employee from his position upon conviction.” The report emphasized that ” the pace of activating civil and political human rights obligations remain below expectations”. The report also said that ” despite the social protection programs granted to the poorest classes and to ensure the provision of income for non-income and low-income families and the enhancement of the size of in-kind support through the support of a loaf of bread and ration commodities, the increase in fuel prices constituted an additional pressure factor on the poorest groups because of its impact on high energy uses and transportation and its impact Reflected on commodity prices.” NCHR also stressed that the intensive social protection measures taken by the state to provide a decent living for the community are not as expected. The Council added: “In addition, the high fuel prices and the cost of basic services have been a pressing factor for middle-class groups, especially those not included in the support system, especially since they mainly bear the cost of health and education services across the private sector, and contribute the largest share in the overall tax revenue in group and individual photos”. The report called for a number of steps to bridge the legislative gaps and deficiencies in dealing with torture crimes, the most prominent of which are: introducing legislative amendments to the articles of the Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Prison Law, in relation to the definition of the crime of torture as mentioned in the Convention against Torture, as well as the rulings of the Court of Cassation.