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A year of violations: Rights groups review violations in first year of Al-Sisi’s presidency - Daily News Egypt

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A year of violations: Rights groups review violations in first year of Al-Sisi’s presidency

AFTE, El Nadeem document human rights violations in fields of press freedom, academic freedom, and inside detention facilities

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi  (AFP PHOTO)
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

The Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), alongside El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, published a report documenting human rights violations over the past year, in a press conference on Saturday.

Both organisations issued two separate reports, with data collected through their monitoring and the cases they have personally provided assistance for. AFTE’s report covered violations at universities and violations against press freedom, while El Nadeem’s report covered violations inside detention facilities.

The report documented three cases of students who were killed inside universities during the past academic year, at least 500 students who were expelled, and times where police forces stormed into campuses in clashes with student protests. In detention facilities, 48 deaths were documented for inadequate healthcare, at least 180 cases faced torture. In the press freedom field, 172 violations were documented from arrests, expulsion, detention, assault, and removal of content.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s first year anniversary in the role was marked on 8 June, with state run media reviewing it as a year of “achievements”, whilst rights groups viewed it as a year of “violations”.

“It is often said that NGOs want to ruin the nation, so we decided to focus on the numbers when documenting the violations, because numbers would never lie,” Emad Mubarak, AFTE’s executive manager, said. “NGOs also are a very strong ally in countering terrorism but the way to counter is what matters.”

Suzan Fayad, a doctor at the El Nadeem Center, said: “In the wake of 30 June, there has been a desensitisation towards violations of freedom of expression and personal safety.”

She reviewed several laws which have been issued over the past year, a large number of which have been issued with very broad terms. An abnormal rise was witnessed in executions and in punishing revolutionary figures, by either detaining them or giving them sentences.

According to Fayad, the second part of the year which started in January 2015 until June 2015 showed increased rates in human rights violations than the previous part of the year.

“The enforced disappearances have increased 42% during January-June 2015, which was suggest it was after the appointment of the new interior minister,” she said.

On 7 March, an unexpected cabinet reshuffle resulted in former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim being replaced by former State Security head Magdy Abdel Ghaffar.

Mohamed Nagy, researcher in AFTE’s students and academics freedom observatory, reviewed recent decrees issued from October 2014, one of them was considering universities a military institution.

“Hundreds of students were transferred to military courts following this decision across Egyptian universities,” Nagy said.

“There were seven cases of violations against academic freedom over the past year. Professors were transferred to prosecution, arrested or expelled, for merely expressing their opinions, among them a philosophy professor at Mansoura University for describing that current regime as a “military regime” during one of his lectures, which was discussing the types of political regimes,” Nagy added. The professor was banned from practicing his job for three months, a quarter of his salary was cut, and he was referred to investigations.

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