News / Middle East

Concern Grows About Human Rights in Egypt

Egyptian riot police fire tear gas towards protesters during clashes in Cairo, April 6, 2013.Egyptian riot police fire tear gas towards protesters during clashes in Cairo, April 6, 2013.
x
Egyptian riot police fire tear gas towards protesters during clashes in Cairo, April 6, 2013.
Egyptian riot police fire tear gas towards protesters during clashes in Cairo, April 6, 2013.
Mohamed Elshinnawi
Among the many reasons why Egyptians rose up against their government more than two years ago were widespread allegations of police brutality and human rights violations.
 
Now, with a new popularly elected government in place in Cairo, the allegations continue almost on a daily basis, ranging from ill treatment of citizens on the street to the killing of anti-government protesters. And when those allegations finally reach a courtroom, government critics say the result is often an acquittal or light jail sentence for the perpetrators.
 
Recently, 22 human rights organizations operating in Egypt issued a joint statement condemning what they say is a lack of respect for international human rights standards, especially when it comes to freedom of association.
 
The statement also accused the government of suppressing the ability of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to function freely by placing "arbitrary restrictions on financial resources" from foreign sources.
 
Freedom House, a U.S.-based independent advocacy organization, also raised the issue, citing a proposed law under consideration by Shura Council, the upper house of the Egyptian parliament. Freedom House said the law would require any NGO operating in Egypt to get advance government permission for foreign donations, whatever the source.
 
If approved, the law has the potential to drive most, if not all, foreign NGOs out of the country, Freedom House said.
 
The U.S. State Department also has expressed concerns about how the Egyptian government investigates and deals with alleged human rights violations.
 
"People should be able to exercise their universal rights peacefully," State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said recently, "and the government of Egypt should respond in a way that respects human rights and should conduct any investigation or response in a thorough, credible, and independent way."
 
Human rights under siege
 
Human rights organizations in Egypt are also warning that the government of President Mohamed Morsi has begun a campaign to restrict freedom of the press by prosecuting journalists on dubious charges. Morsi’s office denies the accusation, noting that Egyptian prosecutors act independently of the president’s office.
 
"The presidency underlines its complete respect for freedom of the expression and the press," says statement issued by Morsi’s office.
 
Heba Morayef, the Egypt director for Human Rights Watch, begs to differ.
 
"Morsi refused to release a fact-finding committee’s report that would be the first official acknowledgment of police responsibility for violence against protesters," Morayef said during a recent panel discussion at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based research organization.
 
Morayef added that it has been clear for several months now that Morsi’s government lacks the political will to begin needed reforms or improve government accountability.
 
Appearing with Morayef at the Atlantic Council discussion was Tarek Radwan, an associate director of the organization. He also said needed reforms were unlikely because Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party believes serious structural reforms would undercut its political strength.
 
Coptic Christians run inside the main cathedral in Cairo as police fire tear gas during clashes with Muslims standing outside the cathedral April 7, 2013.Coptic Christians run inside the main cathedral in Cairo as police fire tear gas during clashes with Muslims standing outside the cathedral April 7, 2013.
x
Coptic Christians run inside the main cathedral in Cairo as police fire tear gas during clashes with Muslims standing outside the cathedral April 7, 2013.
Coptic Christians run inside the main cathedral in Cairo as police fire tear gas during clashes with Muslims standing outside the cathedral April 7, 2013.
External pressure
 
In recent days, the troubles in Egypt took a new turn when Muslims and Coptic Christians clashed in central Cairo after a funeral service for four Copts killed in an earlier confrontation with Muslims. The latest clashes on Sunday resulted in another person killed and 80 injured.
 
Morsi's government had promised to protect the rights of Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 84 million people. Following the latest violence, Morsi telephoned Coptic Pope Tawadros II and told him he considered any attack on Cairo's Coptic cathedral "an attack on me."
 
Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, happened to be visiting Cairo at the time of the latest unrest and called on Morsi's office to urge the security forces to control the violence.
 
Despite the ongoing troubles, Egypt experts such as Morayef believe there is a window of opportunity to improve the human rights and rule of law situation in the country.
 
"The opportunity for leverage is now, while the Morsi government is still outward looking," Morayef said at the Atlantic Council discussion.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ali baba from: new york
April 09, 2013 6:02 PM
poor decision from us Gov.to support moresi in Egypt has severe effect. economy is getting worst. Muslim brotherhood and other fanatic Islamic group turn the country into anarchy because these people does not respect the law or the country has no law. I believe that a blunder mistake from Us and allow these fanatic to seize the power and they determined to turn the country into stone age .now it is too little too late

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More