Reports from Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Reporters Without Borders have offered the latest glimpses into the deteriorating conditions of personal and press freedoms in Egypt.
In its annual World Press Freedom Index Egypt ranked of 159 out of 180 for the second year in a row. While its rank remained unchanged, the report detailed the changing threats to journalists in Egypt during a year marked with protests, clashes, terrorist attacks and a regime change.
“As soon as the Muslim Brotherhood took office, it began asserting its control over the state media. In August 2012, Morsi got the upper chamber to appoint Muslim Brotherhood supporters to run the state-owned newspapers,” read the report.
“Since Morsi’s removal by the army under [currently Field Marshall] Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the new authorities have systematically targeted foreign and Egyptian media affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood—which has again been banned—or regarded as sympathetic to it.”
In its latest release on the country, “Egypt: High Price of Dissent”, HRW also details the difficult conditions for journalists on the ground, but it further discuss the grave consequences for anyone criticising the military-backed interim government.
The detailed report covers the story of several journalists, activists, and academics who have been detained by security forces or forced to flee the country for refusing to tow the official state line.
HRW takes issue with the increasingly harsh steps the government has imparted to limit voices of dissent, including the implementation of a law restricting protest, charging activists with “insulting the judiciary”, and the criminal court case accusing Al Jazeera journalists of being terrorists and spreading false news.
“Egyptian authorities in recent months have demonstrated almost zero tolerance for any form of dissent, arresting and prosecuting journalists, demonstrators, and academics for peacefully expressing their views,” read the HRW report.
Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Baher Mohamed made their first court appearance in court on 20 February. The trial was postponed to 27 February and the trio was denied bail.