Egypt’s presidential elections will not erase human rights violations that have taken place in the country over the past 10 months, said Amnesty International in a report published on Friday.
The international human rights advocacy group said that it expected the human rights situation to continue deteriorating “with neither of Egypt’s two presidential candidates pledging any human rights reforms, nor action to hold those responsible for abuses to account”.
Amnesty International’s report pointed out that both presidential candidates had vowed the Muslim Brotherhood would not exist under their respective presidencies.
“It is the responsibility of the state to uphold the rights to life and security of people and bring those responsible for violent attacks to justice,” read the report. “However, in doing so Egypt must not use it as an excuse to crack down on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.”
The group added that it had received new reports of torture in police stations and prisons, as well as death in custody and “unfair trials” in which hundreds were sentenced to death.
“Instead of holding security forces accountable for human rights violations, the authorities have given them more powers to commit abuses,” said Amnesty International, citing the controversial Protest Law that was passed by the interim government at the end of last year. “The authorities have trumpeted a new constitution adopted in January 2014 that prohibits gender discrimination, but have routinely flouted its safeguards against torture and other ill treatment and its guarantees of freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and other human rights.”
The report also stated that suspended aid to Egypt from the European Union and the United States would likely resume following elections and “facilitate human rights violations”.
“Whoever emerges as the winner, Egypt’s authorities have made it clear that they will cooperate with the other states in the Middle East and North Africa, and beyond, to uproot those they claim are responsible for “terrorism”, including the Muslim Brotherhood,” added Amnesty International, which recommended that the next president take steps to stop “gross violations of human rights by the state” in order to stop “the cycle of repression and political violence”.
Concerns detailed in Amnesty International’s report include excessive force by security forces, torture and ill treatment, the ongoing crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, widening restrictions on the rights to freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and lack of accountability.
The report also discussed continued discrimination against Egypt’s Coptic Christians, lack of the right to adequate housing, and problems concerning refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants.
On Thursday 8 Egyptian human rights organisations released a statement, listing 10 demands for the next president. The civil society organisations highlighted a “serious and unfortunate” escalation of human rights violations since July 2013 “under the pretext of combating terrorism”.
The first demand of the rights groups was to set up a fact finding committee to investigate incidents of violence during the interim government’s tenure and following Morsi’s ouster.
The demands listed in the statement also stressed security sector reform in a way that removed the security apparatus from ongoing political disputes.
The groups also called on the next president to “conduct an immediate review of the status of detainees and prisoners through a legal committee” that would consist of representatives from independent human rights organisations.
The statement also called upon the next government to take necessary legislative measures to comply with a number of international conventions that Egypt had previously signed, and to ratify other ones against torture, forced disappearances, and other human rights conventions.
It also called on the next president to set clear strategies for the participation of civil society organisations and women’s rights organisations to “put an end to all forms of violence against women” and to implement parts of the constitution that promise equality between genders.
It also called on the government to protect the rights of children and toughen penalties against offenders.
The statement confronted the judiciary, calling on it to ensure fair trial standards by issuing laws amending the Criminal Procedure Code.
Signatories to the statement included the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Egyptian Coalition for the Rights of the Child, the Land Centre for Human Rights, the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination, the New Woman foundation, and the Egyptian Foundation for the Advancement of Childhood Conditions.