Annual Report: Egypt 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Egypt 2011

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Head of state: Muhammad Hosni Mubarak
Head of government: Ahmed Nazif
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 84.5 million
Life expectancy: 70.5 years
Under - 5 mortality (m/f): 42/39 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 66.4 per cent

The authorities continued to use state of emergency powers to target government critics, opposition political activists and people suspected of security-related offenses, despite a presidential decree in May limiting the application of the Emergency Law. Some were held in administrative detention without charge or trial, others were tried before emergency or military courts whose procedures did not satisfy international standards for fair trial. Journalists and other government critics continued to be prosecuted under criminal defamation legislation. The authorities maintained strict controls on freedom of expression, association and assembly. Torture and other ill-treatment remained common and widespread, and in most cases were committed with impunity. Several deaths as a result of torture or other abuses by police were reported. Several hundred administrative detainees were released but thousands of others, including long-term detainees, continued to be held despite court orders for their release; the government did not disclose the number of those detained. Forced evictions in Cairo, Port Said and Aswan affected thousands of slum-dwellers who lived in dangerous conditions because of an acute shortage of affordable and adequate housing. Border security forces shot dead at least 30 people, mostly migrants from other African countries, who were seeking to cross the border into Israel. At least 185 people were sentenced to death and at least four were executed.

Background

The government accepted many recommendations made during the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of Egypt in February, but rejected others and deferred a recommendation to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on torture to visit Egypt.

In May, the state of emergency in force since 1981 was renewed for a further two years, but a presidential decree issued at the same time limited the application of the Emergency Law to cases involving "terrorism" and drugs trafficking.

Workers staged many protests against rising living costs and to demand better wages and working conditions. The authorities failed to implement an administrative court ruling to establish a minimum wage commensurate with the average cost of living.

Political activists, including members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and other political opposition groups such as the National Association for Change, the 6 April Movement and the Egyptian Movement for Change (Kefaya), demonstrated against the state of emergency and police abuses. Many were arrested, beaten and taken to remote locations and dumped after their mobile phones, money and shoes were confiscated. Others were detained and charged with assaulting police officers, tried and sentenced to prison terms.

Elections for the Shura, the upper house of parliament, in June and for the People's Assembly in November and December resulted in large majorities for the ruling National Democratic Party, but were marred by serious allegations of fraud, vote-rigging and violence, which left at least eight people dead. The leading opposition parties formally withdrew from the People's Assembly elections after the first and main round of voting in November.

At least 1,200 supporters and candidates associated with the Muslim Brotherhood were detained after it announced in October that it intended to put up many of its supporters as candidates for election. According to the official results, none of them was elected, eliminating the Muslim Brotherhood from the lower house of parliament in which they had previously formed the main opposition bloc.