Egypt Watch

Amnesty International says the Egyptian government continues to repress freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly

On Monday, Amnesty International published its annual report on the human rights situation in the world, including in Egypt, in which it confirmed the Egyptian government’s continued repression of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

The rights group noted that in recent months Egypt had released 895 prisoners who were being held for political reasons but arrested nearly three times that number. Thousands of government critics remain in arbitrary detention, it said, including journalists accused of spreading false news, misusing social media and terrorism, as well as politicians including Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and Alaa Abdel Fattah. Also, the Egyptian authorities failed to prevent sexual and gender-based violence and even prosecuted activists who criticized sexual violence, it added.

The authorities also continued to attack union gatherings, failed to take action against private companies that did not comply with the minimum wage, and continued forced evictions of residents of unplanned areas. Last Monday, the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed concern about reports of arbitrary detention and systematic unfair use of pre-trial detention in Egypt. The committee urged Egypt to respect essential procedural safeguards against arbitrary deprivation of liberty, comply with pre-trial detention, restrictions, and adopt alternative measures to pre-trial detention. It was also profoundly concerned about reports indicating that the death penalty is often imposed in trials that do not meet international standards, such as mass trials and trials in military courts. It asked Egypt to review its current legal framework to ensure that the death penalty is never imposed in violation of fair trial guarantees and that due consideration be given to the abolition of the death penalty.

Last Monday, local and international human rights groups expressed concern about the flagrant human rights violations at Badr Prison in Egypt, explaining that recent news of repeated suicide attempts by prisoners compounds their problems. They called on the international community, including Egypt’s influential allies, to demand transparency from the Egyptian government regarding prison conditions in the country. They also called for the International Committee of the Red Cross and independent human rights groups to be allowed to inspect prisons and to open separate investigations into allegations of serious wrongdoing.

Since the transfer of prisoners to the newly constructed Badr Prison began in June 2022, they added at least four deaths had been reported, including three cases of medical negligence. They also documented various forms of torture that prisoners are subjected to, including exposure to bright lights 24 hours a day, deprivation of food, electric shocks, and sexual harassment, in addition to depriving prisoners of visits and denying them the right to communicate with their lawyers. “Despite the Egyptian government’s repeated claims of reform and the promotion of Badr Prison as a model for renewal and modernization, these violations continue unabated, and perpetrators enjoy complete impunity,” they said.