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AOHR: 3 years of oppression in Egypt


July 26, 2016
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The period between July 3, 2013, and July 3, 2016, has been marred by an increase in the promotion of repressive policies instituted by the regime to routinely suppress its opponents. Monitoring operations have uncovered several cases of extra-judicial killings which, between the period of July 3, 2013, and July 3, 2016, have reached a phenomenal figure of 2,816 victims.

Victims of extra-judicial killings can be found across all Egyptian governorates (discounting Sinai). At least 2,229 persons have been killed by security forces, the army and the Egyptian police combined amidst the use of lethal force by the aforementioned authorities while attempting to disperse peaceful rallies and demonstrations. 496 persons have died inside detention centres due to medical negligence, worsening conditions of detention and torture. The remaining 86 persons have become victims of either physical extermination carried out by security forces during arrest operations or of murder committed by security forces as a result of verbal altercations with citizens.

Additionally, 7 persons have been unlawfully sentenced to death. The first sentence was carried out on Mahmoud Ramadan Abdel Nabi who was convicted in a civil-criminal case and executed on March 7, 2015. The second sentence was passed on 6 individuals convicted in the Arab Sharkas military-case. The convicts were executed on May 17, 2015.

In addition to the aforementioned cases, 56 persons have been killed in dubious circumstances since January 1, 2015, to date. No evidence has been forthcoming through which the nature of these incidents could be ascertained. As usual, the Interior Ministry claims that these individuals died while committing terror activities. However, family members of victims and eye witnesses assert that they have been exterminated by security forces after their arrest and enforced disappearance. Since the Interior Ministry condones operations of physical extermination, there is an urgent need for a neutral investigation which can shed light on the reality of incidents so that the perpetrators of such crimes do not get off unpunished.

The number of those subjected to arbitrary detentions across all Egyptian governorates (discounting Sinai) during the aforementioned period for opposing authorities is at least 55,296 persons. 24,320 persons were arrested during the period between July 3, 2013, and December 31, 2013. In 2014, 10,046 persons faced arrest and 17,840 were victimised in 2015. 3,090 cases of arrest have been recorded since the beginning of this year until July 3, 2016.  

Among those arrested, there are 992 minors and 513 women. 40 women are still in custody to date. In 2013, 160 minors and 161 women were arrested. In 2014, the number of minors and women rose to 445 and 201 respectively. 2015 saw the arrest of 235 minors and 73 women. As for 2016, 152 minors and 80 women have been arrested since the beginning of the year to July 3, 2016.

According to ongoing monitoring operations of court hearings of those detainees who have been arrested in cases related to opposition of authorities after July 3, 2013, to date, sentences have been pronounced in 1,724 cases of opposition of authorities before military and civilian courts alike. 1,593 sentences were pronounced in civilian courts while 131 verdicts were pronounced by military courts. In 2013, verdicts were delivered in four civilian cases. 2014 saw 638 verdicts being delivered in civilian cases while 580 sentences were delivered in 2015. 371 sentences have been pronounced in civilian cases this year. In 2014 and 2015, 6 and 80 sentences were delivered by military courts respectively. 45 military cases have been issued verdicts in this year.

The number of persons involved in these cases has reached 22,224. 595 of them are minors and 6,047 have been acquitted i.e. 37.4% of all under trial. 16,177 have been convicted and handed out sentences of varying nature i.e. 62.6%.

Among the aforementioned verdicts, 3,889 are of life-imprisonment (24.2%), 2,998 are of rigorous imprisonment for more than 5 years (19%), 3,187 persons have been sentenced to imprisonment for 3-5 years (20%), 4,533 persons have been sentenced to imprisonment for periods ranging from one month to less than three years (28%), 543 persons have been fined amounts ranging from 1,000 to 100,000 pounds (3.8%) and 23 persons have been sentenced to other punishments (0.5%). Additionally, the death sentences of 734 have been ratified (4.5%).

On the other hand, numerous government resolutions and presidential decrees have been issued in the aftermath of the July 2013 military coup allotting hundreds of acres of land for building new prisons. Some have already been commissioned in order to decongest other prisons which are brimming with inmates. Assistant Interior Minister in charge of Human Rights justified the move to build new prisons in June 2015. The total number of planned penitentiaries and prisons and those which have been newly commissioned in this period has reached 14.

In order to obscure the truth, the regime has been routinely targeting journalists and the press since July 3, 2013. The Egyptian regime has closed down numerous channels and newspapers and barred several journalists and authors from writing and publishing. Many reporters have been exiled and the Press Syndicate stormed. Journalists seeking refuge have been kidnapped and fabricated charges pressed on the chairman of the syndicate. 18 journalists have been killed and more than 200 arrested of whom 89 still languish in jails. Three journalists were sentenced to death and several others to varied periods of imprisonment in trials which did not meet the minimum standards for fair trials. Some of them are still awaiting trial.

In Sinai, the Egyptian army carries out military operations using lethal ammunition which resemble regular warfare. These operations remain completely unmonitored and there is no legal accountability thereof. The effects of military operations in Sinai have been recorded during the aforesaid period. Through the review of all statements and official press releases of the Egyptian armed forces, and according to monitoring activities of reliable activists, it has been concluded that the civilian death toll stands at 2,826 casualties. 2,434 of these were killed during confrontations with security forces according to figures quoted by the Egyptian army. The remaining 392 persons were killed randomly as per acknowledgement of Egyptian authorities.

The number of detainees in Sinai since July 3, 2013, has reached 6,092 out of which 2,491 persons are wanted for security reasons according to the official spokesperson of the Egyptian armed forces. The remaining 3,601 persons have been arrested on the basis of suspicion.

Personal belongings of Sinai residents like houses, farmlands, vehicles and motorcycles have not been spared from damage and destruction. Moreover, no investigation has been launched into these acts and no compensation has been paid to the victims. Reports were made of 2,150 motorcycles, 1,005 vehicles, 104 farms and 2,233 huts being burnt down.

This is in addition to the destruction of approximately 3,499 homes. The military spokesperson stated that 398 homes were burned and destroyed during shelling operations. Furthermore, the Egyptian government has issued orders to vacate the area bordering the Gaza Strip. This is to deport the existing population of that area and demolish their homes in order to establish a buffer zone on the Gaza border. Three stages of this plan have already been executed during which more than 3,101 homes have been demolished and more than 4,500 families have been displaced (with each family consisting of an average of 5-7 individuals).

During the period between January 2015 and July 3, 2016, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR) in UK sent more than 640 notifications to official authorities in Egypt regarding violations committed by security forces in the country. AOHR has sent these notifications to the Human Rights Department in the Ministry of Interior, the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Council of Human Rights. It has demanded therein the opening of fair and transparent investigations into cases of violations where tens of detainees have suffered violations inside prisons, police stations and jails; and holding accountable those responsible for these acts. Nevertheless, the authorities’ response to these notifications was extremely weak since not a single investigation has been launched to date. This gives out a clear indication that such widespread violations are not the handiwork of mere individuals, rather, it is a well-thought out plan of Egyptian authorities that is being executed with the full support of judicial authorities and the public prosecution.

It has been established beyond doubt through the recording of human rights violations committed by Egyptian authorities during the last three years that the human rights set-up in Egypt is suffering a continuous decline and its condition is worsening on a daily basis.

The frightening number of violations and the relentless attitude of the Egyptian regime to continue the implementation of repressive policies has resulted in the complete breakdown of the human rights framework in the country. In spite of abundant authenticated information being available to the regime through scores of reports and human rights statements, in addition to the tens of notifications which are filed before government authorities pertaining to violations, the government continues to target huge numbers of political dissidents and commits all types of crimes against them. These crimes are therefore to be classified as international crimes which warrant the formation of a multinational panel in order to launch a probe into these crimes and present the perpetrators before competent authorities to hold them accountable.

 

Translated from the Arab Organisation of Human Rights

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