UN Special Rapporteur criticizes Egyptian authorities for blocking human rights group website

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On Friday, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, criticized the Egyptian authorities for blocking the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies website after it published a report critical of the human rights situation in the country.

“I received news that the Cairo Institute website in Egypt was blocked following a report they submitted to us at the United Nations Human Rights Council,” she said. “Human rights defenders must be able to work with the United Nations without fear of reprisals.”

Director of the Egypt Program at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Mohamed Zaree, said that the rights group’s website was blocked due to its publication of a statement submitted by rights groups to the United Nations. In conjunction with the twelfth anniversary of January 25, 2011, Revolution, Amnesty International submitted a memorandum to the United Nations Human Rights Council highlighting the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt.

The rights group said the findings of the memorandum serve as a stark reminder of the rights crisis in Egypt, the impunity, and the thwarted hopes of Egyptians who took to the streets 12 years ago demanding freedom and dignity. The memorandum explains the findings of the human rights group regarding the deep-rooted violence and discrimination against women and minorities in Egypt, the ruling authority’s repeated resort to the death penalty, torture, arbitrary detention, unfair trials, and the suppression of freedom of expression and assembly.

The rights group called on UN member states to focus on human rights in their deliberations with Egypt. It said that the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi used the death penalty to get rid of its opponents, in addition to routinely practising torture and other ill-treatment. Methods of torture included electric shocks, suspension by limbs, indefinite solitary confinement, sexual assault, beatings, and threats. Amnesty International said that since the army overthrew the late President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the Egyptian authorities have used death as a tool of repression, intending to spread fear among citizens and strengthen their grip on power, in addition to issuing thousands of death sentences and executing more than 400 people.