The human rights organisation Insania has reported 553 cases of violations against Egyptian journalists during the first half of 2016. These violations range from physical attacks and detention under inhumane conditions, to denying journalists from doing their work, whether by denying coverage, travel bans, arrest and dismissal from work, or the closing down of channels and programs.
The report released by Insania on August 3, further commented on the Cairo Criminal Court’s issuance of a death sentence to four journalists in the case known as “Collaborating with Qatar”, namely Ibrahim Helal, Alaa’ Sablan, Ahmed Abdu, and Asma Khatib, describing the sentence as “the first of it’s kind”.
During the first half of the year, Insania documented 40 violations against journalists within detention centres, ranging from electrocution, physical assault and psychological torture, as well as the imprisonment of a number of journalists in solitary confinement. Other cases involve the imprisonment of defendants with criminal prisoners, as well as the denial of visitation, or the torturing of the detainees and their families during visits. Authorities also use deliberate medical negligence, and the prevention of medical care for those who are ill.
The number of journalists detained in Egyptian prisons during the first half of 2016 was 91, with 104 journalists placed in temporary custody, of whom 10 remain in custody. During the same period, nine journalists have been released following prolonged detention.
During the first three months of the year, 12 journalists and photographers were arrested, of whom eight were released and four remain in custody. The 12 journalists are: Mahmoud Sakka, Ahmed Abdel Gawad, photographer Ahmed Yousef, Ammar Abdul Majid (still in custody), cartoonist Islam Jaweesh, Muath Mustafa Knawy, correspondent Anwar Sabri (still in custody), Ahmed Naji (still in custody), Ahmed Nasreddin, Islam Atif, Alaa’ Khamis and Assem Abdel-Fattah.
The report also documented 6 cases in February, 11 during March; and 8 cases between April and June.
The report said: “Since the events of July 3, 2013, the Egyptian regime has practiced grave violations against the press and journalists, with death sentences handed to four of them and the arrest of dozens, as well as breaking into the Journalists’ union headquarters and the arrest of journalists from within.”