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Egypt 'reverting back to a police state'

Amnesty says Egyptians are watching their country reverts back to a police state [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 January, 2016

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In a stark assessment ahead of the anniversary of 25 January revolution, Amnesty International says Egypt is being reverting to a police state, with abuses widespread under Sisi.

Egypt is in the midst of a human rights crisis of ‘huge proportions’, warned Amnesty International as the country marks five years since the toppling of dictator Hosni Mubarak in what later became known as the 25th of January Revolution. 

“Five years after euphoric crowds celebrated the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, the hopes that the ‘25 January Revolution’ would herald a new era of reforms and respect for human rights have been truly shattered. Egyptians have been made to watch as their country reverts back to a police state,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

“Peaceful protesters, politicians and journalists have borne the brunt of a ruthless campaign against legitimate dissent by the government and state security forces. Tens of thousands have been arrested and the country’s prisons are now overflowing, with widespread reports of torture and hundreds held without charge or trial.”

Widespread abuse

Amnesty highlighted the heavy-handed response to national security threats which tramples on human rights as one manifestation of the regression in Egypt, with tens of thousands of arrests in the name of counter-terrorism.

Around 12,000 arrested in 2015 alone including protesters, anti-government activists and journalists.

The authorities also launched a crackdown on human rights defenders  and  non-governmental organisations, ahead of 25 January anniversary, with NGOs stripped of funding, offices raided, staff ill-treated and banned from travelling or subjected to criminal investigations.

The National Security Agency accused of savage beatings, rape, electrocutions and using stress positions.

The dire state of human rights in Egypt is underscored by widespread reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees with the National Security Agency accused of savage beatings, rape, electrocutions and using stress positions. 

Amnesty International is scathing too about the criminal justice system which it described as ‘unfit for purpose’.

The organisation says grossly unfair trials on a mass scale which resulted in hundreds of death sentences being issued; scores of people detained without charge, some for years on end.

Sisi's regime further assaulted human rights with the introduction of repressive laws a draconian new protest law adopted in 2013 prohibits the very protests that enabled the uprising.

 A counter terrorism law introduced last year also grants the president sweeping powers that would normally only be invoked during a state of emergency - reminiscent of Egypt’s 30 year-long state of emergency under Mubarak.

Amnesty International said countries seeking an ally in restoring security and stability to the Middle East and North Africa should acknowledge that Egypt’s notorious security forces are not a suitable partner and real reform is needed.      

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