Annual Report: Egypt 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Egypt 2013

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Arab Republic of Egypt

Head of state Mohamed Morsi (replaced Hosni Mubarak)

Head of government Hisham Qandeel (replaced Kamal Ganzouri)

Protests against military rule resulted in the killing of at least 28 protesters by security forces in Cairo and Suez. Riot police and the army used excessive force to disperse protesters, who later alleged that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated in custody. Protests, sometimes violent, by opponents and supporters of the President took place in November and December. Unfair trials by Emergency Supreme State Security Courts continued and security forces continued to act above the law. Former President Hosni Mubarak and the former Minister of Interior were sentenced to life imprisonment for killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising; many other suspected perpetrators were acquitted. No members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) were held to account for violations committed during their rule. President Mohamed Morsi established a committee to investigate violations committed between January 2011 and June 2012. He issued pardons for some civilians tried by military courts and a general amnesty for offences by protesters during demonstrations against military rule. Discrimination against religious minorities persisted. Journalists and activists were prosecuted for “insulting the President” and blasphemy. Women faced discrimination in law and practice as well as widespread sexual harassment. Thousands of families continued to live in “unsafe areas” in informal settlements (slums), while thousands more faced threats of forced eviction. Migrants were reportedly killed by security forces while attempting to cross into Israel or were exploited by traffickers in the Sinai Peninsula. At least 91 people were sentenced to death. It was not known whether there were any executions.

Background

A newly elected parliament met for the first time on 23 January. In March, parliament appointed a 100-member Constituent Assembly to draft Egypt’s new Constitution. The Constituent Assembly was dominated by Islamist parties and criticized for including only six women and six Coptic Christians. It was suspended by an administrative court on 10 April following a legal challenge. With the expiry of the 31-year state of emergency in May, the authorities tried to preserve some exceptional powers; on 13 June the Ministry of Justice gave military and intelligence officers powers to arrest, but an administrative court quickly overturned the move. Parliament approved a new Constituent Assembly in June, which faced fresh lawsuits and was increasingly boycotted by opposition political parties, civil society and the Coptic Christian Church. On 16 June, the SCAF dissolved parliament, following a Supreme Constitutional Court ruling that the elections had been unconstitutional. On 17 June, days before the result of the presidential elections, the SCAF widely expanded its own powers and limited those of the incoming administration. On 12 August, newly elected President Morsi announced that he had overturned the SCAF’s new powers, and that SCAF leader Mohamed Tantawi was to retire. The announcement followed an attack by an armed group in the Sinai Peninsula which killed 16 soldiers. The authorities subsequently launched a security crackdown in the area.

On 22 November, President Morsi decreed that the courts could not challenge his decisions nor hear any lawsuit against the Constituent Assembly. President Morsi also issued a repressive new law to “protect the Revolution”, replaced the Public Prosecutor, and urged new investigations and prosecutions in cases of deaths of protesters. The Constituent Assembly finalized the draft Constitution on 30 November.

The decree and draft Constitution triggered nationwide protests and a judges’ strike, as well as incidents of violence between supporters and opponents of the President. On 5-6 December, at least 10 people were killed in clashes outside the Presidential Palace in Cairo. In response to the unrest, President Morsi partially lifted his decree on 8 December. The new Constitution was subsequently adopted in a national referendum in late December.