Egypt – Finding Scapegoats
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Crackdown on Human Rights Defenders and Freedoms in the Name of Counter-terrorism and Security
This Saturday 17 March, EuroMed Rights launches a report EGYPT – Finding Scapegoats, a study that highlights how the Egyptian government perceives human rights organisations and independent civil society at large in particular as a genuine threat to “national security” and “stability”.
Launching this study today is particularly symbolic as Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, also known as Shawkan, is having his next hearing after the prosecutor in the “Rabaa dispersal” case requested a death sentence for him. His case is part of the mass trial against over 700 defendants who were arrested in connection with the August 2013 protests against the Egyptian military’s coup.
EuroMed Rights is deeply concerned about the complete disproportionality of the requested sentence and calls for his immediate and unconditional release, noting also that guarantees for a due process and fair trial have not been respected. Our organisation is all the more alarmed by this punishment, which appears more as another authoritarian decision by a regime seeking scapegoats in the name of security. Shawkan’s case is yet another example of the judicial harassment that independent journalists, human rights lawyers and judges, democracy activists, feminists, student unions leaders, trade union leaders and minority groups activists face in the Egypt of today. It seems that the ultimate aim of the Egyptian government, is to eliminate all dissenting voices and to gain control over the public domain for good.
As Shawkan’s case illustrates, the judiciary has become the most important tool in the hands of the executive power to curtail any peaceful opposition. As underlined in the report in a series of recommendations, EuroMed Rights urges the Egyptian government to respect freedom of expression, assembly and association. All HRDs, activists and journalists detained solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association and/or imprisoned on charges based on draconian anti-terrorism or national security provisions, should be immediately and unconditionally released.
Read more in our report here