Monday 22 October 2018
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3 months ago

Egypt: Intensifying Crackdown Under Antiterrorism Guise

Expand In this file photo, Egyptian security forces stand guard outside a court in Cairo, Egypt, January 3, 2018. © Reuters (Beirut) – Egyptian authorities are increasingly using counterterrorism and state-of-emergency laws and courts to unjustly prosecute journalists, activists, and critics for their peaceful criticism, Human Rights Watch said today. These abusive practices and distortion of counterterrorism measures have taken place at the same time as Egypt was chairing one of the key United Nations committees to ensure compliance with counterterrorism resolutions and while the UN’s most senior counterterrorism official was visiting the country. “While Egypt faces security threats, the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has exploited these threats cynically as a cover to prosecute peaceful critics and to revive the infamous Mubarak-era state security courts,” said Nadim Houry, terrorism/counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch. “Egypt is combining a bad law with unjust courts and the outcome has been predictably disastrous, as al-Sisi’s Western allies look the other way.” In the period before the March 2018 presidential elections, Egyptian police and National Security Agency forces carried out a wave of arrests of critics of al-Sisi. The crackdown continued after the election with the detention of prominent activists and journalists and their prosecution under Egypt’s 2015 counterterrorism law. The law criminalizes a wide range of acts, including publishing or promoting news about terrorism if it contradicts official statements. Some cases have been transferred to the Emergency State Security Courts, a parallel judicial system operating since October 2017, under the state of emergency that the government claims is being used only against terrorists and drug traffickers. These courts do not guarantee a fair trial and their decisions are not subject to appeal.  Huma

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