World Report 2020 | Events of 2019

Source: Human Rights Watch

Author(s): Human Rights Watch

Original Link:

The Egyptian government in 2019 passed constitutional amendments that were approved in an unfair referendum in April. The amendments consolidate authoritarian rule, undermine the judiciary’s dwindling independence, and expand the military’s power to intervene in political life. Security forces led by the military continue to brutalize civilians in North Sinai in its conflict with Sinai Province, an armed group affiliated with the extremist group Islamic State (ISIS). The army and pro-government militias carried out serious abuses, including demolishing homes and arbitrarily arresting, torturing, and extrajudicially executing residents. ISIS militants also committed horrific violations, including kidnappings, torture, and killings of residents and detained security force members.

Under the guise of fighting terrorism, Egyptian authorities showed utter disregard for the rule of law. Since April 2017, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has maintained a nation-wide state of emergency that gives security forces unchecked powers. Security forces used torture and enforced disappearances systematically against dissidents from all backgrounds. Egypt’s use of mass trials and the death penalty has mounted since 2013, including death sentences against children and death sentences issued in military trials.

In August, President al-Sisi approved a new law that maintains most of the drastic restrictions imposed on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Despite several government promises to lift restrictions, the law merely removes prison penalties but maintains severe restrictions that make it impossible for NGOs to work freely and independently.

The government failed to follow through on promises it had made to protect women and religious minorities. A law criminalizing domestic violence did not gain traction in parliament, and Christians still face discrimination and obstacles when it comes to building new churches.

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