Top News: Civil Society Organizations Document 625 Torture Cases From January to November

Fourteen Egyptian rights organizations, among them the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), the Association for the Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) issued a statement on the occasion of international human rights day condemning Egyptian security forces for committing grave, and often deadly, human rights abuses. In a press conference which took place hours after the statement was issued, the civil society organizations shared documented cases of torture in police stations and forced abductions committed by security personnel, as well as other allegations of rights violations perpetrated by the government. They documented 625 torture cases in Egyptian prisons, including 51 cases of collective torture, between the period of January and November 2015. According to the groups, 37 people died as a result of torture while in custody over the past 11 months. Susan Fayad of El Nadeem Center added that the number of “enforced disappearance” cases over the past year are estimated to be in the hundreds as a result of what she described as “the poor political system” in Egypt. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement on the occasion of human rights day, saying Egypt is fully committed to the International Declaration of Human Rights. [Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, 12/10/2015]


Egyptian police officer sentenced to five years for beating man to death in Beheira
Damanhour Criminal Court sentenced on Thursday a police officer to five years in prison for beating a citizen to death in May at a police station in Beheira governorate. The court acquitted two other low ranking policemen who were also facing charges in the death of the victim, Sayid al-Kassabry. The sentence can still be appealed. [Ahram Online, Cairo Post, 12/10/2015]

Journalist Ismail Alexandrani’s pretrial detention renewed 15 days
Cairo State Security Prosecution renewed the detention of Egyptian journalist Ismail Alexandrani 15 days pending investigation into charges of “disseminating false news” and  joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, his lawyers said Thursday in a Facebook post. In the post, defense lawyer Mohamed Baker said Alexandrani is ill with the flu and has been banned from exercise in prison. Alexandrani is currently being held at Cairo’s Tora Prison. He was arrested by national security forces at the Hurghada Airport on November 29 when he tried to reenter the country via Berlin. He was then moved to Cairo, where he was interrogated for over eight hours by the National Security Prosecution. Berlin has asked Cairo to explain why Alexandrani was arrested on his return from Germany.  Deputy Foreign Minister Maria Boehmer said, “The government is following this case closely and has sought clarification from the Egyptian embassy.” [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 12/10/2015]


Egypt plans talks with Gulf allies for more aid, official says
Egyptian authorities plan to hold talks with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates to secure more aid and investments, a government official said. The planned talks will focus on “areas of cooperation” including investments, development aid, possible foreign-exchange deposits at the central bank, and the supply of oil and non-oil products. The official, who asked not to be named, did not say when the talks will start or how much Egypt aims to secure. Fresh funds would provide crucial dollars needed for businesses to import capital goods and raw materials and help authorities avoid an uncontrolled currency devaluation. Meanwhile, Egypt’s total budget deficit rose to 2.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product during the first quarter of the 2015/2016 fiscal year as the government spent more money on subsidies. [Bloomberg, 12/11/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s president approves $400 million loan from IBRD for social scheme | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s budget deficit rises July-Sept as subsidy spending increases | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Cairo Post
  • Transport Minister cancels deals with foreign companies to develop railway crossings | Cairo Post


Amnesty, CPJ reiterate calls for photojournalist Shawkan’s release
Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demanded the immediate release of photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid (known as Shawkan) in open letters to the prosecutor general on Thursday, two days before his first court session on charges stemming from the Raba’a al-Adaweya sit-in. Amnesty said Shawkan’s arrest “exposes the rank hypocrisy behind [Egypt’s] claim to uphold press freedom,” and called for all charges against him to be dropped. In its letter, CPJ voiced concern over several aspects of Shawkan’s case. “Shawkan is being tried alongside more than 700 other defendants, which can only harm the chances of the court recognizing that he was arrested in the course of his work as a journalist,” the letter said. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 10/11/2015]

Also of Interest

  • In Pictures: Egyptians commemorate 40 days after Russian plane crash | DNE
  • Climate change to affect Arab region significantly says former minister | AMAY
  • Eyeing rapid results, Egypt takes charge of building new capital | Reuters
  • MENA youth gather in Cairo’s RiseUp to overcome the obstacles | Aswat Masriya
  • How one Egyptian plans to rev up tourism | The Guardian
  • Al-Azhar organizes competition to counter Shiism | Cairo Post
  • Transparency group says 90 cases of government corruption in November | AMAY


Egypt receives Type-209 submarine from Germany
Egyptian Navy Commander in Chief Rear Admiral Osama Mounir Rabie said Thursday it was a day of honor for Egypt as the first German-Type 209-1400 submarine was launched. Speaking to state news agency MENA, Rabie added that the submarine was a technologically advanced addition to the Egyptian navy, further boosting its ability to maintain Egyptian national security at sea. “We are satisfied with the high-tech submarine, it is an addition to the potential of the Egyptian naval forces, and we can use it to protect our borders and coasts,” he said. Egypt has purchased a total of four submarines of the same type. Egyptian naval officers are currently in Germany to receive training on the use of the submarine according to a statement released by the official Spokesman for the Armed Forces. [Ahram Online, MENA, SIS, Cairo Post, 12/10/2015]


Riyadh talks are ‘step towards activating unified voice of Syrian opposition’ says Egypt
Talks between Syrian opposition groups in Riyadh which took place on December 8-10 are an important step toward activating a “unified voice” of the Syrian opposition, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said on Friday. “The Riyadh event was the warm-up step for further talks between the Syrian government and opposition, supervised by the UN,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. During closing statements, the participants agreed on the unity of Syrian lands, state sovereignty, that Syria should be a civil state, and on a commitment to democracy without discrimination. These articles, according to Egypt’s statement, are important, and were previously discussed during Cairo’s talks with the Syrian opposition. “This development could lead to a political settlement that opens the door for the return of stability, achieving the legitimate expectations of the Syrian people, and eliminating all kinds of terrorism in Syrian territories.” [Ahram Online, 12/11/2015]

Egyptian, Ethiopian, Sudanese foreign ministers to meet Friday for Renaissance dam talks
The foreign and irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will meet on Friday and Saturday in Khartoum for the tenth round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Cairo has repeatedly expressed concerns that filling and operating the dam, which is currently under construction on the Blue Nile, will negatively affect the supply of Nile water that reaches downstream Egypt. Ethiopia has rejected these claims. The Khartoum talks will also attempt to solve differences between two consulting firms commissioned to carry out studies on the potential impact of the dam after one of the two firms dropped out in September citing concerns about the conditions imposed on the study. [Ahram Online, Cairo Post, 12/11/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Recent gas discoveries to strengthen Egypt, Cyprus, Greece cooperation says minister | AMAY
  • Greece, Cyprus, Egypt to speed up talks over sea boundaries | Reuters
  • Sisi says Egypt keen to promote parliamentary ties with Greece | SIS
  • Russian tourism official expects resumption of flights by February 2016 | AMAY
  • JICA vice president visits Egypt | MENA
  • Canada urged to help family of ex-Morsi aide trapped in Egypt | Reuters
  • Dispatch from Paris: Where does Egypt stand in COP21 negotiations? | Mada Masr
  • Intellectuals refuse normalization with Israel | AMAY
  • Egyptian army main pillar of protecting Arab national security says Tunisian president | SIS