ARTICLE 19 and the Association for Free Thought and Expression (AFTE) note Egypt’s engagement
with the UPR process during its recent second Review.
However, this expressed commitment to human rights is in stark contrast to reality, where an
unprecedented crackdown on fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression continues.
We thank Lithuania for its recommendation to “investigate all cases of the use of excessive force
against protesters […] and hold accountable those responsible”. Approximately 1000 protesters were
killed in a single day, in August 2013, when the Egyptian government employed lethal force against
protesters. At present, none of the high-level officials responsible for the massacre have been held
accountable. Excessive use of force continues to be employed by Egyptian police, with at least 20
people killed during protests on the anniversary of the revolution, in January 2015.
We highlight that several Members States1
recommended the repeal or significant amending of the
Protest Law, adopted in November 2013. The law severely restricts the right to peaceful assembly
and provides broad and sweeping powers to the police to prohibit meetings or demonstrations and to
disperse them using lethal force.
We highlight the recommendation made by Austria to “release and drop charges against media
workers arrested in the context of performing their duties.”2
While ARTICLE 19 and AFTE welcome
the release of the three Al Jazeera journalists, after more than 400 days of imprisonment, the charges
against the journalists have not been dropped. They remain at risk of re-imprisonment for undertaking
their legitimate journalistic activities. Furthermore, at least 10 other journalists remain in prison in
We especially welcome recommendations3
that recognise “the crucial importance […] of civil society”
as “indispensable for building peaceful, prosperous and democratic societies”, as stated in Resolution
24/21. We underline, in particular, Chile’s recommendation to “lift the restrictions hindering the work
of civil society organizations, in particular the reception of funding to effectively carry out their work
in defence of human rights.” New and extreme pressures, contrary to a flourishing and enabling
environment are being exerted on civil society organisations. These measures include changes to the
penal code in September 2014, which criminalise the receipt of foreign funding.
In a recent interview for an online German news outlet President Sisi said that human rights should
not be reduced to freedom of expression. We would like to remind Egypt and all Member States that
freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy, and its fulfillment enables the enjoyment of
all other rights. With the revolution in 2011, the Egyptian people clearly expressed their desire for
fundamental rights and freedoms. We urge Member States to listen carefully to the voices of all
Egyptians and take proactive steps to ensure that Egypt fulfils commitments made during its UPR.