“Very Steep” The Democratic Path in Egypt 2017

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)

Prologue:

A new year goes by and the democratic path is getting worse. In 2017 there was more repression and closure of the public space. All those interested in public affairs became a target of security hysteria, which was not limited to journalists, activists and human rights defenders, it also amounted to presidential candidates.

Four citizens who announced their intention to run for the presidential elections, to be held in 2018, were not spared from abuse and targeting: The first, Khaled Ali, is still facing trial in a Hesba case on the backdrop of celebrating obtaining the ruling of Tiran and Sanafir islands as Egyptian. The second, Shafiq, was forced to withdraw shortly after he announced his intention to run. The third, an army officer sentenced to 6 years in prison, and the fourth, a former parliamentarian, who is still looking for a place from where he can announce his position regarding the elections.

The old targets of persecution continue to be subjected to various forms of abuse: Trials, pre-trial detention, illegal detention, travel ban and other attacks continue against human rights defenders, journalists and other advocates of democracy and rule of law.

Military trials for civilians, special chambers to deal with terrorism cases, exceptional measures that did not stop at announcing the state of emergency and introducing legislative amendments that favor only security solutions, which did not succeed except in helping the security bodies to target opinion-makers.

Terrorism continues to grow, and the authorities have found no effective means to combat it, it strikes at different intervals, while the security is busy dealing with political opponents, democracy advocates, presidential candidates and human rights defenders.

Death sentences are still being issued regularly in exceptional trials that do not meet the minimum fair trial conditions and standards. Trials of the figures of the regime, against which the revolution have risen, have been going on for years while they are released. In contrast, young people, like photojournalist Shawkan, has been going on for years, which he is spending in prison thanks to his pre-trial detention decision, which punishes him for carrying a camera.

All this did not put an end to the protests, did not stop terrorism, but it confiscated freedoms, obstructed democracy, and besieged freedom of the media. The country’s leaders did not understand, after so many years, that security solutions alone will not work, and will not be useful.

In this fourth annual report by the Lawyers for Democracy initiative to monitor the democratic path in Egypt, we monitor the democratic path in 2017 in details, statistics and percentages.

Lawyers for Democracy:

“Lawyers for Democracy” is an initiative launched by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) in 2014, it has a network of lawyers across different governorates and cities in Egypt, monitoring cases and events in Egypt such as demonstrations, conferences, strikes and both official and unofficial practices affecting the democratic path, the lawyers document these incidents, provide legal support, and then issues reports to clarify Egypt’s situation, its parties, its media and its judiciary, where it stands from the rule of law, respecting freedom of expression and the democratic path.

 

Chapter I

Protest Events

Chapter I: Protest Events

In 2017 the Egyptian authorities were clearly intent on the closure of the public atmosphere and on preventing any demonstration organized by the various political forces, regardless of the reasons that led to organizing the demonstration and regardless of the power calling for it, as if there was some kind of fear from leaving any room for going back to Tahrir Square.

In 2017, the various political powers held 779 protests, in spite of the measures taken by the authorities to confront the protests, and in spite of the constant rising attempts to prevent it, whether by the protest law issued by former President Adli Mansour or by other security measures.

Here are the details of the 779 protest events that took place in 2017 distributed over the various political powers per month:

The following table shows the number of protest events and security attacks per month in 2017

Month Protest Events That Were Attacked by Security Protest Events That Were Not Attacked by Security Total number of events
January 44 114 158
February 46 55 101
March 24 79 103
April 12 42 54
May 6 50 56
June 8 40 48
July 7 37 44
August 7 41 48
September 3 45 48
October 8 33 41
November 6 30 36
December 12 30 42
Total in 2017 183 596 779

The Egyptian authorities mainly targeted the big demonstrations in large and public streets, large squares, the staircase of the Journalists Syndicate, and in the vicinity of Tahrir Square in general, there hasn’t been a demonstration organized in those areas which wasn’t targeted by the security forces.

Political powers, particularly the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), have resorted to organizing quick demonstrations (flash mobs) in side streets to avoid security attacks, which is why there is a large number of protest events that have not been attacked by the security.

It is worth mentioning that the attempts of some democratic civil powers to obtain a license for holding a demonstration from the security services in accordance with the protest law have failed, most notably, the request of some of these powers to hold a demonstration to protest Trump’s decision to move the US embassy at the Israeli occupied territories to Jerusalem, but the security services refused to give them permission to hold the demonstration.

Comparison between the number of protests from 2014 to 2017

2017 was the second lowest year in terms of the number of demonstrations, and this was after years of systematic targeting of demonstrations either through the legislation using the protest law or through security practices, arresting and imprisoning protesters, with 779 protest events held through out the year.

While 2014, the year in which the rule of President Sisi officially began, was the highest in terms of the number of protests, where 1515 protest events were held through out the year.

Followed by 2016, in which 1318 protest events were held, there was a huge rise in the number of protests due to the decline in economic conditions, the rise of prices and the signing of the agreement to concede the islands of Tiran and Sanafir.

While in 2015 there were 766 protest events, making it the lowest in the four years in terms of the number of protests.

Pro-regime and oppsition protests

Not only did the protests against the authorities witness a marked decline in 2017, but also the pro-regime protests, with only four protests held through out the year, as opposed to nine pro-regime protests in 2016.

As usual, pro-regime protest events have not been subjected to any application of the protest law, nor were they met by any attempt to prevent or attack them, unlike opposition protests.

In contrast to the 4 pro-regime protests, there were 775 anti-regime protests as shown in the following table

Pro-regime protests: Anti-regime protests:
4 775

 

The percentage of pro-regime protests was 0.5% versus 99.5% anti-regime protests, as shown in the following chart:

Security Attacks on Protest Events:

In 2017, 779 protest events were organized, out of which 183 protest events were attacked by the security forces, while 596 went unattacked.

The following table shows the attacks on protest events

Total number of events Protest Events That Were Attacked by Security Protest Events That Were Not Attacked by Security
779 183 596

The percentage of attacks on protest events during 2016 was 30%, in 2017 the rate of attacks on protest events has dropped to 23.5%.

Protest events by the powers organizing them:

The MB & NASL remained at the forefront of the protests, with 446 protests, followed by labor and social protests with 248 protests.

The following table the percentage of protests by their organizers

Organizing power MB & NASL Social & Economic Students Civil & Democratic Powers Pro-regime Other
Number of protest events 446 248 63 13 4 5

 

The main common demands of the various powers

In 2017 there were no joint protests in which the civil and democratic powers joined the MB & NASL, but there were some clear common demands in the protests of the majority of the various political powers, the most salient of which are:

– Demanding the release of political prisoners.

– Protesting the death sentences.

– Protesting the deteriorating economic and social conditions.

– Protesting the closure of public space and the imprisonment of journalists.

– Protesting the military trials for civilians.

– Protesting the maritime border demarcation agreement signed by Sisi with Saudi Arabia.

– Protesting the state of emergency.

First: MB & NASL protests:

 

In 2017 the MB & NASL continued to organize protests and so-called flash and surprise demonstrations, in order not to enable the security bodies to disperse and arrest those who take part in the protests.

As in the previous years, the Brotherhood had the largest number of protests, with a total of 446 protest events.

The following table shows the number of MB & NASL protests per month

Month Protest Events That Were Attacked by Security Protest Events That Were Not Attacked by Security Total number of events
January 37 81 118
February 28 46 74
March 19 41 60
April 10 15 25
May 4 31 35
June 5 20 25
July 4 13 17
August 4 17 21
September 2 12 14
October 5 12 17
November 4 18 22
December 7 11 18
Total in 2017 129 317 446

 

January was the highest month in terms of the number of protest events organized in conjunction with the commemoration of the revolution of 25 January, followed by February, which marked the anniversary of ousting Mubarak, then the number of demonstrations decreased gradually.

The following chart shows the MB & NASL protests per month

The security bodies’ targeting of the MB & NASL protests continued, as in 20017 the security bodies attacked 129 protest events.

The following table shows the number of security attacks on the MB & NASL protest events

Total number of events Protest Events That Were Attacked by Security Protest Events That Were Not Attacked by Security
446 129 317

 

 

The top MB & NASL demands in 2017

  • Protesting the concession of the islands of Tiran & Sanafir
  • Toppling what they called the military coup, the ousting of Sisi, and the return to legitimacy
  • Protesting the deterioration of economic conditions in the country
  • Demanding the release of former president Mohammed Morsi and the imprisoned members of NASL
  • Protesting against imposing the state of emergency.
  • Demanding holding those responsible for the dispersal of Rabaa sit-in accountable
  • Protesting the enforced disappearance of members of NASL

Second: Civil & Democratic Powers protest events:

In 2017 there was a decline in the number of protest events organized by the civil and democratic powers. This was due to the severe security restrictions on protests and the siege on the demonstration areas, especially Tahrir square and the staircase of the Journalists Syndicate, with only 13 protest events organized by the civil and democratic powers in 2017.

The following table shows the Civil and Democratic powers’ protests per month

Month Protest Events That Were Attacked by Security Protest Events That Were Not Attacked by Security Total number of events
January 2 0 2
February 0 0 0
March 0 0 0
April 1 1 2
May 0 0 0
June 2 4 6
July 0 0 0
August 0 0 0
September 0 0 0
October 0 0 0
November 0 0 0
December 3 0 3
Total in 2017 8 5 13

June was the highest month in terms of the number of protest events organized by the civil democratic powers, with six protest events.

The following chart shows the Civil & Democratic powers protests per month

Attacks against the Civil & Democratic powers protests:

The percentage of security attacks on the protest events of the civil democratic powers was significantly high, out of the 13 protest events organized, 8 were attacked by the security forces, while only 5 went without attacks.

The following table shows the security attacks on the civil and democratic powers’ protest events

Total number of events Protest Events That Were Attacked by Security Protest Events That Were Not Attacked by Security
13 8 5

The following chart shows the percentage of security attacks on the civil and democratic powers’ protest events

The top demands of the civil and democratic powers in 2017:

  • Protesting the maritime border demarcation agreement signed by the president with Saudi Arabia.
  • Commemorating the 25 Jan Revolution anniversary
  • Protesting against the forcible displacement of Coptic Christians and the attacks against them
  • Protesting against Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in the occupied territories to Jerusalem.

Third: Social & Labor protests

The floating of the Egyptian pound and the subsequent economic measures, which led to removing subsidies and a significant increase in prices, without a corresponding increase in income, which led to the continuation of social protests aimed at improving the workers’ conditions.

In 2017 there were 248 social and labor protests.

The following table shows the number of social and labor protests per month

Month Protest Events That Were Attacked by Security Protest Events That Were Not Attacked by Security Total number of events
January 5 26 31
February 5 20 25
March 5 36 41
April 1 18 19
May 1 17 18
June 1 15 16
July 2 22 24
August 2 22 24
September 1 20 21
October 3 12 15
November 2 9 11
December 0 3 3
Total in 2017 28 220 248

Attacks against the Social & Labor protests:

There has been a significant increase in the rate of attacks on social and labor protest events in 2017. In 2016, only 8% of the social and labor protests were attacked, while in 2017 it rose to about 11.5%.

The following table shows the percentage of attacks against social & labor protests

Total number of events Protest Events That Were Attacked by Security Protest Events That Were Not Attacked by Security
248 28 220

 

The top demands of the social and labor protests in 2017:

  • Protesting the dismissal of workers
  • Protesting the low wages and demanding improving the economic conditions.
  • Protesting the delay in payment of salaries and financial dues.
  • Masters and PhD holders demanding being appointed in positions equal to those of their colleagues.
  • Demanding the legalization of the workers’ situation
  • Demanding a raise in the annual bonus

 

Fourth: Students Protests

In 2017 there were 63 students protests, compared to 307 protests in 2014, which is a major decline as a result of the authorities’ and universities’ adoption of severe measures to crack down on public affairs activities inside university campuses, including using force to disperse students’ gatherings, arresting them, issuing administrative decisions to ban political activities within the university campuses, banning student exhibitions, expelling them and depriving them of completing their studies.

The following table shows the number of students protests per month

Month Protest Events That Were Attacked by Security Protest Events That Were Not Attacked by Security Total number of events
January 0 4 4
February 0 2 2
March 0 2 2
April 0 7 7
May 0 2 2
June            0 3 3
July 1 2 3
August 1 2 3
September 0 13 13
October 0 9 9
November 0 2 2
December 0 13 13
Total in 2017 2 61 63

 

Attacks against the students’ protests:

Despite all the repressive measures, and the high price paid by students as a result of organizing demonstrations and protest events about public matters within their university campuses, the number of protests declined but did not stop entirely, and in 2017 the security bodies attacked 2 out of the 63 students’ protests.

The following table shows the attacks on students protest events

Total number of events Protest Events That Were Attacked by Security Protest Events That Were Not Attacked by Security
63 2 61

The following chart shows the percentage of security attacks on the students’ protest events

The top demands of the students protests in 2017:

– High school students protest the high number of questions of the booklet exams system.

– Protesting the high tuition fees

– Standing in solidarity with their arrested colleagues

– Protesting against the terrorist attacks against Christians and against terrorism in Sinai

– Protesting against Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in the occupied territories to Jerusalem.

Fifth : Pro-Regime Protests:

In 2017 there were 4 pro-regime protests, none of which was attacked by security bodies, most notably were 2 held in conjunction with the anniversary of the January Revolution, in order to celebrate the Police Day and to block the opposition and prevent them from commemorating the January Revolution.

One was held in April to support the authorities in their anti-terrorism measures, and another one in November as part of “So You Can Build It (Egypt)” campaign to support Sisi’s candidacy for a new term.

 

Chapter II

Ongoing Trials & Judicial Rulings

 

First: Ongoing Trials:

In 2017 the Egyptian judiciary reviewed 202 ongoing trials of the various political powers, Mubarak’s regime figures and post 30 June 2013 figures.

Out of these trials, 164 were before natural civilian judiciary, while 38 were before the military judiciary.

1- Ongoing trials before the civil judiciary:

In 2017, the number of political powers’ trials continued to rise, which is partly due to the lack of rapid judgments and the also due to adding new cases. The civil judiciary has presided over 164 trials of the various political powers related to public affairs.

The following table shows the number of trials of the various political powers

MB & NASL Civil and Democratic Powers Mubarak’s Regime Pro Post-June 30 regime. Pro SCAF Total in 2017
104 35 19 6 0 164

The Muslim Brotherhood remained at the top of the powers facing trials, followed by the civil democratic powers, while Mubarak’s regime figures remained in third place in the number of trials that had not been resolved for years, these were the cases that were filed against Mubarak’s regime figures following the January 25 revolution in 2011.

2- Military trials for civilians:

In 2017 the number of military trials for civilians continued to rise, and so did the number of citizens who were referred to trial before exceptional military courts.

The military judiciary has presided over 38 trials in 2017, compared to 32 in 2016 and 29 in 2015.

1869 civilians stood before the military judiciary in 2017, compared to 3037 in 2016 and 1750 in 2015.

Second: Judicial Rulings:

In 2017 the Egyptian judiciary issued 186 rulings in the various cases related to public affairs, out of which 132 were convictions and 54 acquittals.

1- Rulings of Conviction:

In 2017 there were 132 rulings of conviction against the various political powers, out of which 14 were issued by the military judiciary against civilians. The MB & NASL were the highest group against which convictions were handed down.

2- Acquittals:

In 2017 there were 54 acquittals in the trials related to public affairs, out of which 9 were in military trials for civilians and 45 in civil courts.

The following table shows the number of acquittals

MB & NASL Civil and Democratic Powers Mubarak’s Regime Pro Post-June 30 regime Military trials for civilians Total in 2017
 26 12 6 1 9 54

 

3- Death Sentences:

In 2017 there were 43 death sentences against 358 citizens, compared to 15 death sentences against 85 citizens in 2016.

The following table shows the details about death sentences in 2017

  Number of issued sentences  Total

Number of defendants

Number of defendants sentenced to death pending referral to the Mufti

Number of defendants

Number of defendants the Mufti confirmed their death sentences
Civil Judiciary 40 297 118 179
Military Judiciary 3 61 46 15
Total 43 358 164 194

Death sentences annulled before the Court of Cassation in 2017

The Court of Cassation accepted 5 appeals on death sentences and ordered a retrial before a different court:

1) On May 4, 2017, the Court of Cassation accepted the appeal filed by 25 defendants who were sentenced to death by Qena Criminal Court against the backdrop of the incidents that took place between the Halayel and Dabudiyah tribes, and ordered their retrial.

2) On July 31, 2017, the Court of Cassation accepted the appeal filed by 10 defendants sentenced to death by Cairo Criminal Court, by Judge Mohammed Sherin Fahmy in the case known in the media as Al-Zawahiri cell, and ordered to commute the sentence to life imprisonment.

3) On November 2, 2017, the Court of Cassation accepted the appeal filed by a defendant against the death sentence issued by Giza Criminal Court by Judge Mohammed Naji Shehata in the case known in the media as “Al-Istekama Mosque incidents” and ordered his retrial.

4) On November 4, 2017, the Court of Cassation accepted the appeal filed by 7 defendants against the death sentence issued by Cairo Criminal Court by Judge Hussain Qandil in the case known in the media as “Tanta terrorist cell” and ordered their retrial.

5) On November 14, 2017, the Court of Cassation accepted the appeal filed by 5 defendants against the death sentence issued by Mansoura Criminal Court in the case known in the media as “Mansoura deterrence cell” and ordered their retrial.

 

Chapter III

Terrorist attacks & counter-terrorism

 First: Terrorist attacks

Terrorist operations have continued in 2017, it has dropped significantly in number compared to 2015 & 2016, however, the extraordinary measures and declaring the state of emergency did not stop organized terrorism from targeting state institutions and the Christian minority in Cairo and other cities.

Lawyers for Democracy team monitored 76 terrorist attacks in 2017 compared with 400 terrorist attacks in 2015 and 259 in 2016.

The following table shows the details about terrorist operations in 2017

Total terrorist operations Terrorist operations carried out Terrorist operations the authorities were able to thwart
76 61 15

 

The following table shows the number of terrorist operations in 2017

Month Terrorist operations carried out Terrorist operations thwarted Total
January 6 0 6
February 6 2 8
March 10 1 11
April 4 2 6
May 4 1 5
June 2 1 3
July 12 1 13
August 7 0 7
September 5 4 9
October 3 1 4
November 2 1 3
December 0 1 1
Total in 2017 61 15 76

 

Terrorist operations in the different cities:

North Sinai continued to be a hub for terrorist and extremist groups. Sinai was at the top of the provinces where terrorist attacks took place in 2017, followed by the capital Cairo, as was the case in previous years.

The following table shows the number of terrorist operations in each city

City Terrorist operations carried out Terrorist operations thwarted Total
North Sinai 46 11 57
Cairo 3 0 3
Giza 2 2 4
Qaliubiya 2 0       2
Fayum 1 0 1
Gharbia 2 2 4
Al-Wady Al-Gadid 1 0 1
Menya 1        0 1
Oasis 2 0 2
Alexandria 1 0 1
Total in 2017 61 15 76

These operations have resulted in the killing and wounding of 1042 individuals throughout the year as shown in the following table

The following table shows the number of victims of terrorist operations

Civilians Security forces Perpetrators of terrorist operations Total
Killed 456 145 50 651
Wounded 286 98 7 391
Total in 2017 742 243 57 1042

 

Second: Counter-terrorism operations

In 2017 the Egyptian authorities carried out 133 operations that targeted areas described by the authorities as terrorist hubs, and during these operations the authorities eliminated and captured members they hold responsible for the terrorist operations going on in the country.

These operations resulted in the killing of 432, wounding 39 and the capture of 1141.

The following table shows the number of counter-terrorism operations in 2017

Total number of operations Killed Wounded Captured
133 432 36 1141

 

 

Chapter IV

Crackdown on freedom of expression & media freedoms

 

In 2017 the severe crackdown and targeting of freedom of the press continued, as Lawyers for Democracy team monitored 215 violations against press and media freedoms, as opposed to 289 violations in 2016 and 343 in 2015.

The following table shows the number of violations against freedom of expression & media freedoms per month

Month Number of violations
January 16
February 14
March 21
April 10
May 23
June 17
July 20
August 36
September 17
October 12
November 19
December 10
Total 215

 

In 2017 there was a huge increase in the enforced disappearance of journalists, their interrogation on charges unrelated to their journalistic work at state security prosecutions, the courts and prosecutions were presiding over trials and investigations of journalists on an almost daily basis.

The following table shows the number of violations against freedom of expression & media freedoms

Arrest & Detention 10
Prevention from Covering 51
Trials & Investigations 93
Judiciary Rulings 15
Physical Assaults 9
Decisions to block websites 14
Censorship, banning from airing & confiscation 7
Deleting contents from a camera 1
Dismissal from work or expulsion from university 11
Travel ban 1
Enforced disappearance 3
Total violations in 2017 215

The table above shows a significant increase in the number of judicial rulings issued against opinion-makers and journalists because of their views, as well as the use of enforced disappearance against journalists and media figures, and issuing 14 undeclared decisions to block a huge number of websites that exceeds 450 websites and several other social networking pages.

 

 

Chapter V

Attacks against Human Rights Defenders

 

 

In 2017 the systematic targeting of human rights defenders continued, as they have been subjected to constant harassment and other violations including arrest, detention, ongoing trials, and the use of pre-trial detention as a punishment.

Although human rights defenders were constantly targeted, five of them won international awards.

First: Attacks against Human Rights Defenders:

Pre-trial detention, interrogations and travel bans are no longer the most dangerous nor most common violations in 2017 as it used to be the case in previous years, as the attack against HRDs increased significantly, and with it the number HRDs sentenced by the judiciary or brought to trial. In 2017 the authorities have also adopted the approach of blocking websites in general, which in turn was used to block the websites of human rights organizations.

The following table shows the number of violations against human rights defenders in 2017

Type of violation Number
Arrest, detention and security harassment against HRDs 10
HRDs brought to trial 50
Public prosecution investigations 10
Pre-trial detention as a punishment for HRDs 35
Travel ban 2
Delays, deportation and restrictions on freedom of movement 2
Shutting down organizations 1
Harassment of HRDs in prison 1
Blocking the websites of human rights organizations 5
Asset freeze of human rights organizations or HRDs 2
Refusing to register a human rights organization 1
Convictions against HRDs 24
Attacks against labor rights advocates 32
Placing on terrorism lists 1
Total 176

Second: Awards received by HRDs:

1- Mozn Hassan receives the Alternative Nobel Prize in Cairo

On March 26, Right Livelihood held a special ceremony in Cairo to award activist Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies the Alternative Nobel Prize.

Activist Mozn Hassan was supposed to receive the award in a ceremony held by Right Livelihood in Stockholm in November 2016, however, she found out that a travel ban decision for her has been issued by the investigative judge in case No. 173 for the year 2011, AKA the foreign funding case, therefore she was unable to travel and another ceremony to give her the award was held in Cairo.

2- Mohamed Zaree wins Martin Ennals Award

On October 10, Egyptian human rights defender Mohamed Zaree, who is accused in case No. 173 for the year 2011, released and banned from traveling pending the same case, was selected as the winner of the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, his wife and two daughters went to Geneva to receive the award on his behalf because of the travel ban.

 3- Khaled Elbalshy wins the Nelson Mandela Award for Human Rights Defenders

Former Journalists Syndicate Council and chief editor of the Al Bedaiah online newspaper, Khaled Elbalshy won the 2017 Nelson Mandela Award for Human Rights Defenders for his defense of freedom of the press in Egypt. Elbalshy received the award on 7 December 2017.

4- Ragia Omran wins the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law

On December 5, lawyer, member of the National Council for Human Rights and coordinator of the Front for the Defense of Egyptian Protestors, Ragia Omran won the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Omran received the award on 10 December 2017.

5- Azza Suleiman wins second place in the Allard Prize for International Integrity

In early October, Azza Suleiman, a human rights defender and the director of the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), won the second place in the Allard Prize for International Integrity, one of the most prestigious awards for corruption fighters and human rights defenders.

 Chapter VI

Important milestones in the democratic path

 

Important milestones in the democratic path

In 2017 there were several milestones which had an impact on the situation of democratic path and rule of law, which we summarize int the following lines:

First: A lower court annuls the decision of a higher court in the Tiran and Sanafir islands agreement, and the authorities disregard the decision of the High Administrative Court

In a strange incident that raised doubts about the ability of the authorities to use lower courts in violation of the law and the constitution to annul the decisions of the State Council courts, on January 1 Cairo Court for Urgent Matters issued a decision to stop the administrative judiciary decision to nullify the maritime border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and any consequent effects it had!!

Despite it is not a competent court for overseeing administrative decisions or reviewing the decisions of the State Council court, which is the only competent court for resolving disputes over the implementation of its decisions

On January 16, the Supreme State Council Administrative Court handed down its judgement in the well-known case of “Tiran and Sanafir”, rejecting the Egyptian government’s appeal against the ruling nullifying the signing of the maritime border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and thus “confirming Egyptian sovereignty over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir”.

However, the Parliament approved the agreement nonetheless and the authorities ignored this decision and implemented the agreement, in an incident that has overshadowed the extent to which the different authorities respect the independence of the judiciary and the need to implement its provisions.

 Second: The ongoing targeting of judges because of defending the rule of law and human rights

 On March 30, the investigating judge mandated from the Ministry of Justice decided to refer Judges Asim Abdel-Jabbar, vice president of the Court of Cassation, and Hisham Raouf, president of the Cairo Court of Appeal, to the Disciplinary and Jurisdiction Council for participating in the drafting of an anti-torture draft bill, which was prepared by legal experts during a workshop organized by the United Group of Legal Consultants on March 11, 2015, to work on drafting the bill to be in line with the provisions of the new constitution, and also in line with international standards, then they were referred to investigation after a communication was filed by the Supreme Judicial Council accusing them of preparing a draft law against torture in collaboration with an illegitimate human rights organization.

Third: Declaring and prolonging the state of emergency:

In March, following the brutal terrorist attacks against the Churches of St. Mark in Alexandria and St. George in Tanta, the President declared a state of emergency and the return of the notorious Emergency Law No. 162 of 1958, which had been used for many years to close the public atmosphere and to silence peaceful opposition, it was nullified in the wake of the 25 January 2011 Revolution. The declaration of a state of emergency would increase the exceptional measures that facilitate the restrictions on human rights defenders and the attacks against freedom of expression and political opponents.

On April 27, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified an amendment to the emergency law, setting out more exceptional measures. The amendment allows judicial officers to arrest any person who shows suspicion of having committed a felony or misdemeanor, inspecting his place of residence, and all places where he is suspected of hiding weapons or dangerous materials, and also allows for holding the person for seven days before being brought before the prosecution.

Since then till the end of 2017 the state of emergency has been extended for successive periods of time, and is still declared until the publishing of this report.

Fourth: Legislative amendments:

In 2017 several legislative amendments were introduced, which have had an impact on the situation of democracy, freedom, the independence of the judiciary, the fairness of trials and on the work of human rights defenders, most notably:

The Judicial Authority Law:

At the end of April, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified amendments to the Judicial Authority Law, despite the rejection by the judges and other powers in society of the amendments that were considered to limit the independence of the judiciary and justice. After the judges used to elect the heads of the judiciary themselves, the law gave the president the right to appoint the heads of such bodies from several candidates submitted to him by the judges.

The Code of Criminal Procedure and the Law of Appeal Procedures before the Court of Cassation:

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ratified some amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, which constitute an attack on the guarantees and standards of fair trial. The most important amendments were to give the trial court the option not to hear witnesses’ testimony and examine them in court.

The amendments to Law No. 57 of 1959 on appeal procedures before the Court of Cassation also made the court itself address the same case instead of referring the case to another court for retrial.

The Anti-Terrorism Act and the Law on Terrorist Entities:

The president ratified amendments to the Law on Terrorist Entities, the most important of which was increasing the period of being placed on terrorism lists and the subsequent procedures from 3 to 5 years.

He also approved the amendments to the anti-terrorism law, the most important of which was granting the prosecution the power to hold those arrested in custody for 14 days instead of 7 days in the old law.

The NGOs Law “The Nationalization of Civil Society”:

On May 24, the president ratified the new NGOs Law, which was issued by the Egyptian authorities, ignoring the objections and observations of the various social forces who rejected it and said that the law was adopted to nationalize Egyptian civil society organizations and aims to impose restrictions on human rights organizations, the law banned any entity from doing any civil work unless it is in compliance with the law and subject to its provisions. The law also requires all organizations and entities that carry out civil work in Egypt, regardless of their name or legal status, to reconcile within six months of the law, otherwise it will be dissolved.

The law contains many articles that kills the independence of civil society and puts it under the control of the authorities, as well as many of the penalties that affect civil society and the employees who work in it.

The National Elections Commission Act:

On August 7, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified Law No. 198 of 2017 on the National Elections Commission, which was issued by the Parliament during the previous session.

The law stipulates that the National Elections Commission shall be an independent body with a legal personality of technical, financial and administrative independence. Its headquarters shall be in Cairo and, if necessary, shall hold its meetings at any place it determines, it can also, by a decision of the Chairman of the Commission, after the approval of the Board, establish branches inside. The law also stipulates that the Commission shall be the only competent body to administer referenda, presidential, parliamentary and local elections, and to organize and oversee all related operations without interference in its work or competences.

 

Fifth: Crackdown against presidential candidates:

In 2017 there was a systematic harassment by the Egyptian authorities against all potential presidential candidates, which made it clear that there was a desire and will on part of the authorities to remove any possible rival of Sisi in the elections scheduled for 2018. Here are the top examples of crackdown against presidential candidates:

  • The case of presidential candidate Khaled Ali:

On Tuesday, May 23, lawyer and former presidential candidate, Khalid Ali, stood before the public prosecution for investigation on the backdrop of a a “Hesba” lawsuit accusing him of committing an indecent act in public, against the backdrop of celebrating the ruling obtained from the Administrative Court, which nullified the agreement to concede the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, and in investigation in which Khalid Ali was not allowed to present his defense, the prosecution decided to detain him to the next day pending the security investigations and the report of the criminal laboratory. The next day, the prosecution decided to release Khalid Ali on bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds, and to refer him to an urgent trial on May 29, a move seen as aimed at cutting the road on Khaled Ali and to prevent him from running in the upcoming presidential elections.

The case remained deliberated in the hearings until a ruling was issued in September sentencing Khalid Ali to three months with bail until the appeal was heard. Khaled Ali filed an appeal against the verdict, and the case is still being deliberated before the courts.

– The case of former prime minister Ahmed Shafik

On November 29, 2017, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq announced in a statement from the UAE his intention to run for the presidential elections in Egypt. However, after a few hours he appeared in a video aired on Al-Jazeera, confirming that he was surprised to find out that he was banned from traveling by the Emirati authorities for unknown reasons. Later in the beginning of December, the authorities at the UAE deported him to Cairo, he was taken to an unknown location, which is what his lawyer and his family confirmed, yet he later appeared in a phone call confirming that he was free and unrestricted, he also announced during the phone call that he has not made a final decision to run in the upcoming presidential elections.

– The case of Colonel Ahmed Konsowa

On November 29, 2017, Colonel Ahmed Abdel Ghaffar Hassan Konsowa announced in a video on social networking websites his intention to run for the upcoming presidential elections. However, a few hours after the video was broadcast, he was summoned from the prosecutor’s office for investigation before the Military Prosecution. The military prosecution decided to detain him for 15 days pending investigation and he was placed in a military prison.

He was later referred to an urgent trial and sentenced to 6 years in prison.

 – The case of former MP Mohamed Anwar Sadat

In December 2017, the former parliamentarian and potential presidential candidate, Mohamed Anwar Sadat, sent a letter to the head of the Electoral Commission, saying that he had been trying for two months to book a hotel hall for two hours to hold a press conference to announce his and his party’s position on the presidential elections, however, his requests have been turned down by hotels because of security instructions, at a time when we were watching and following the conferences and gatherings of the campaign “So that you can build it.. We are with you” and others in all hotels in Egypt and other cities with the support of state officials, according to the letter.

Until the time of the writing of this report, Sadat was unable to find a place to hold a press conference to announce his position on the presidential elections.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) word

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) pdf