The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) said that the announcement by the Arab Network for Human Rights Information to suspend its activities in Egypt, after 18 years of continuous struggle in defense of freedom of opinion and expression, is a new indication of the insincerity of government allegations about improving human rights conditions in Egypt.
In a statement, the CIHRS expressed its regret for this heavy loss, as it described it, stressing that it fully understands the reasons for this emergency decision, and expresses its full solidarity with the organization, its founders, and its staff.
The organization said that since President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was elected in 2014, human rights organizations in Egypt have suffered under the weight of a fierce war. The latest form of this suffering was the government’s mandatory warning to non-registered civil entities to register under an arbitrary repressive law or face closure, it added. Independent UN experts have said that the new law will virtually eliminate any space for freedom of association.
The CIHRS pointed out that since El-Sisi took power, the Egyptian human rights movement has witnessed an unprecedented decrease in the number of its organizations, due to the constant pressure and repression of its work. It stressed that the Arab Network will not be the last among human rights organizations that will resort to freezing their activities instead of registering under the umbrella of a law that systematically seeks to eradicate civil society and marginalize its humanitarian and development role.
The statement stated that the Arab Network and its founder, Gamal Eid, had been subjected to unprecedented security and judicial pressures, starting with freezing his funds and banning him from traveling in 2016, to physically assaulting him and threatening his life four times in less than three months. Eid was subjected to massive organized media campaigns accusing him of political exploitation of the spread of the Coronavirus and the dissemination of false information about the human rights situation in Egypt.
The statement indicated that what the Arab Network is exposed to is inseparable from the continuous fierce attack and the systematic media campaign launched by state agencies against independent civil society organizations working in the field of human rights.
At the conclusion of the statement, CIHRS affirmed that the Egyptian state’s efforts to eliminate independent human rights organizations are still continuing and taking different approaches. The problem does not lie in repressive laws only, but in the absence of the rule of law itself, and the control of the security services over all state institutions, including the judicial institution, it added.