Human Rights violations in Egypt under Morsi

 

 Ibrahim Habib  

  • Torture and other ill-treatment and killing of opposition journalists and political activists:

Most recently on 30th April 2013 Egyptian authorities jailed an anti-Islamist activist on charges that included insulting President Mohamed Morsi, state news media said. After turning himself in to prosecutors, the activist, Ahmed Douma, was transferred to a prison to be held for four days.

Mr. Douma has been a vocal critic of Mr. Morsi and his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood, using social media and joining anti-Islamist protests.

Human rights groups have accused Mr. Morsi and his allies of targeting their critics in politically motivated prosecutions — a charge Mr. Morsi’s aides deny.  

On 10 May Ahmed Maher the Chairman of 6 April movement was detained for insulting the interior Minster. Several activists and opposition journalists were killed during demonstration in mysterious circumstances for example El-Hossini Abu-Dif who was killed outside El-Ethadiah palace during a demonstration against president Moursi many fingers point to government agencies assassination rather than the official post-mortem report attributing his death to Car accident. 

  • Egypt's President Backs Controversial NGO Law

 Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi submitted to parliament on Wednesday a controversial bill regulating NGOs and human rights groups but said it did not impose restrictions on their activities.An earlier draft had drawn criticism from activists, Western governments and the United Nations human rights chief, who said it was more stifling than regulations under the deposed President Hosni Mubarak. “This law remains restrictive because it allows the government to control NGOs access to funding, both foreign and domestically and it allows for government interference in NGO activities,'' said Heba Morayef, Egypt director for Human Rights Watch. 

The new draft stipulates that a steering committee supervising NGO activities “may seek assistance” from whoever it wants, including security officials.

  • Violation of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary

 

The principle was adopted by the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held at Milan from 26 August to 6 September 1985 and endorsed by General Assembly resolutions 40/32 of 29 November 1985 and 40/146 of 13 December 1985. Article 4. stipulates “There shall not be any inappropriate or unwarranted interference with the judicial process, nor shall judicial decisions by the courts be subject to revision.

This principle is without prejudice to judicial review or to mitigation or commutation by competent authorities of sentences imposed by the judiciary, in accordance with the law.”President Morsi 3 sacked Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud and appointed him ambassador to the Vatican in violation of the existing constitutional declaration at the time and in violation of the Judicial Authority Law and the UN principle and appointed new Attorney General Talat Abdullah in violation of the current Constitution in Article 173, paragraph 2, and the Judicial Authority Law and the UN principle.

 

President Morsi presented the new Judicial Law, where the age of retirement of judges will be reduced, to the Islamist majority Shura council who passed the new law against severe opposition from the liberals as the new law will force retirement of senior judges most of them oppose president Morsi and form the majority in the constitutional court.

  • Impunity to police and security forces in killing and torturing civilians.

 

In October, all defendants were acquitted in the “Battle of the Camels” trial in relation to clashes between pro- and anti-Mubarak protesters in Tahrir Square in February 2011. Subsequently, members of the Public Prosecution suggested that the case would be reopened.

 

No army members were brought to justice in relation to killings or torture during the Mohamed Mahmoud Street protests and Cabinet

Offices protests in November and December 2011. Civilian investigative judges instead referred protesters to stand trial for alleged violence. Those accused in the Mohamed Mahmoud Street protests were amnestied, but the Cabinet Offices trial continued. Only one riot police officer stood trial for abuses committed during the Mohamed Mahmoud Street protests. His trial continued at the end of the year.

 

In September, a military court sentenced two army soldiers to two years’ imprisonment each, and a third soldier to three years’ imprisonment, for “involuntary homicide” for driving their armoured vehicle into 14 Coptic protesters in October 2011 in Maspero, Cairo. Investigations by civilian judges into the killings of 13 others failed to identify perpetrators. No SCAF members faced justice for the killings of protesters during their 17-month rule.

  • Freedoms of expression and association

 

 There were ongoing criminal investigations and charges for blasphemy and insulting public officials. New constitutional provisions restricted freedom of expression, prohibiting insults against individuals or religious prophets. Draft legislation restricted freedom of association and imposed repressive rules on registration and foreign funding for NGOs.

 

Prisoner of conscience Maikel Nabil Sanad was released on 24 January as part of a wider pardon by the SCAF. A blogger, he had been imprisoned in April 2011 following an unfair trial by a military court for criticizing the army and objecting to military service. In August, El-Dostor newspaper editor Islam Affifi was tried for publishing false information “insulting the President”. The trial was ongoing at the end of the year.

 

 In October, television personality Tawfiq Okasha was fined and sentenced to four months’ imprisonment for “insulting the President”. He remained free pending appeal.

 

There has been a spate of convections of insulting heavenly religion, this law has been used against Christians on the flimsiest of evidence, several of hash sentencing after a hearing lasting only days while Islamists who publicly insult Christianity never sentenced but rather appear close to government officials .

 

Prisoner of conscience Alber Saber Ayad was arrested on 13 September after people surrounded his home accusing him of promoting the controversial film Innocence of Muslims. In December he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “defamation of religion” on the basis of his videos and internet posts, but bailed pending appeal.

 

  • Women’s rights

 

 The new Constitution prohibited discrimination between Egyptian citizens, but did not explicitly prohibit discrimination against women, referring instead to their duties as homemakers. Women were marginalized in the new political institutions. They occupied only 12 seats out of 508 in the People’s Assembly, before its dissolution. Only seven women were included in the second Constituent Assembly. Women were largely excluded from the Egyptian Cabinet appointed by President Morsi and none were appointed to the role of governor. Women also continued to face exclusion from serving in the judiciary. Discriminatory laws and practices relating to marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance were not addressed.

 

Several women were reported to have been sexually harassed or assaulted during mass protests including in Tahrir Square. In June, a march in Cairo against sexual harassment was attacked by men who sexually harassed and assaulted the participants. In September, a man shot dead a woman in the street in Asyut, reportedly after she resisted his sexual harassment. After the Eid holiday in October the authorities announced they had received over 1,000 complaints of sexual harassment. No members of the security forces were held to account for sexual or gender-based violence against women detainees following anti-SCAF protests in 2011.

 

 In March, a military court acquitted an army doctor in relation to forced “virginity testing” of women protesters in March 2011.

  •  Religious and ethnic discrimination

 

 The new Constitution did not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, potentially affecting minorities such as Nubians.

 

The Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion but limited it to religions officially recognized as “heavenly”, potentially affecting Baha’is and Shi’a Muslims. The Constitution provided for separate personal status laws for Christians and Jews, as well as the right to regulate their religious affairs and leadership, but not for other religious minorities.

 

 Egyptian law made it difficult for Coptic Christians to build or repair churches as it required hard-to-obtain official authorization. Some church-building works were obstructed by neighbouring Muslims, sometimes causing communal violence. In such cases, security forces generally failed to protect Copts from attacks.

 

Since president Morsi took office, not a single permit to build a church was issued.

  • Refugees and migrants

 

 Egyptian security forces continued to shoot foreign migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers who sought to cross Egypt’s Sinai border into Israel, killing at least eight people. Human traffickers reportedly extorted and abused refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants crossing the Sinai Peninsula into Israel.


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