Trust in the judicial and security establishments is weakening due to an absence of the political will to push real reforms, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).
In an year-end report, EIPR said Egypt’s process of criminal justice over the past year has acted in favour of ensuring impunity for different state bodies to abuse power, including the police, military and judiciary. The latter has fallen short on holding perpetrators accountable, yet using terrorism as justification for more arbitrary abuse, EIPR said in the report.
“The public prosecution and courts were complicit in allowing perpetrators to walk free while locking up dissidents,” EIPR said.
Practices identified as “arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearance, severe torture, and unfair trials by military courts of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activities”, reflect a year of “massive and systematic violations of basic rights and freedoms”.
Egyptian courts have allowed alleged perpetrators of killings and torture from security agencies to walk free, sometimes without appearing in court. However, relatives of those killed by police brutality suffer in silence, Diana El-Tahway, Director of the Criminal Justice Unit at EIPR wrote in a Huffington Post article last Tuesday. El-Tahawy added that the Mubarak case was one more example confirming this.
The report recognised the authorities’ need to fight threats of terrorism in Sinai. It added, however, that a policy of excessive crackdown on freedoms and abuse of rights “fails to counter terrorism and even indirectly fuels it as thousands of people lose faith in state institutions and take the law into their own hands”.
The report also condemned the report issued by the 30 June fact-finding committee last November concerning the dispersal of Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Nahda sit-ins in August 2013.
Committee Chairman Fouad Riyad declared the death toll from the dispersals to be 615, including 8 police officers, with 1,648 injuries, among whom 156 were from the police. The final report reduced the death toll provided earlier in 2014 by the government and the state-affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) which was approximately 630.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimated a total of 904 deaths in both sit-ins in a report on the anniversary of the dispersal. HRW’s director, Kenneth Roth, was denied entry to Egypt due to the report’s findings.
EIPR said the official results were untruthful in comparison to its own research, and “fell short of expectations”. The group added that they failed “to establish the truth and to call for the necessary legal and institutional reforms to ensure non-repetition”.
The expansion of military power through military trials, worsening prison conditions, restrictions on NGOs were all facilitated by an inadequate legal framework, EIPR said. They added that these factors are actually allowing impunity to be entrenched.
However, only 98 workers’ protests reportedly took place in December, according to Democracy Index (DI), a tool of the local NGO of the International Development Center (IDC) counting protests across Egypt on a monthly basis.
“This is included in a total count of 302 workers’ protests in the last quarter of 2014,” DI said.
Between protests, strikes, sit-ins, demonstrations, press conferences, attempts to personally put pressure on senior officials, DI said that the most critical workers’ objection was against government policies. These have been described as “destructive to national economy major sectors such as iron and steel, textile and food industries”.
“It seems that [Prime Minister] Ibrahim Mehleb’s government is repeating the mistakes of previous regimes, namely through the selling and privatisation of companies,” DI commented.
This comes as EIPR’s report also tackled the socio-economic impact of last year’s policies. The group argued that the government failed to open discussion channels with the groups affected by controversial economic decisions, or with civil society.
Despite, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s socio-economic policy focused on reducing the financial burden on the poor, decisions and laws passed in the absence of a parliament seem to be a failure.
According to EIPR’s investigations, the removal of the subsidy negatively affected the ‘vulnerable consumers’, who saw successive price hikes in the cost of public transportation, electricity and household gas, food.