Independent watchdog Freedom House has said that Egypt’s country status shifted from “not free” to “partly free” during 2012.
Freedom House published its yearly global report based on data from its annual survey of political rights and civil liberties. From its findings the watchdog has changed Egypt’s status “due to a flawed but competitive presidential election that led to the removal from power of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.”
Egypt joined Libya and Côte d’Ivoire, who enjoyed the same rating shift, however the report did point to concerns about recent political events in Egypt.
The author of the report, Arch Puddington, vice president for research at Freedom House wrote: “[In 2012] the country was confronted by daunting problems.” He referred to the campaign against NGOs, the dissolution of the parliament, the process of drafting the new constitution “and a power grab by newly elected president Mohamed Morsy.” He also highlighted the various investigations of opposition leaders for treason and defamation cases against journalists.
The Freedom House rating is based on scores between one and seven (with one being free and seven being not free). Two scores are given, one for civil liberties and another for political rights.
Previously Egypt’s political rights score was six but has now dropped to five, while its civil liberties score remained unchanged at five.
Sherif Etman from the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights believes that Freedom House’s classification for political rights is a fair assessment, however he stressed that more political rights are needed.
Etman expressed concern over the civil liberties score. He said: “Civil society is currently chained, more than before the Egyptian revolution. Civil society organisations still feel that freedom is in danger.” He gave a number of examples of this including the right of association and assembly.
Egypt is now one of six countries in the Middle East that is classified by Freedom House as “partly free”. Eleven are classed as “not free”, while Israel is the region’s only “free” country.
A press release from the watchdog published on Wednesday pointed out that while the Arab Spring helped some countries it also “triggered a reaction, sometimes violent, by authoritarian leaders elsewhere in the Middle East.”