Top News: Senators Urge Kerry to Focus on Political Reform, Human Rights During US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue

US Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Bob Casey (D-PA) wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday, ahead of the upcoming US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue on August 2, urging that “political reform, human rights, and fundamental freedoms” are made a central element of the agenda. In the letter, the Senators write that while “The United States and Egypt have shared a strategic partnership for more than four decades … we are troubled by recent developments in Egypt that suggest the country is not on a path to long-term sustainable security or political inclusion.   We are also concerned that recent US policy and assistance decisions have been interpreted by the Egyptian government as endorsement of the current political climate.” The letter added, however, that the United States “will remain committed to a security partnership with Egypt,” commending the country on its “adherence to the Peace Treaty with Israel, its role in brokering ceasefires between Israel and Hamas, its provision of military privileges to the United States, and its participation in peacekeeping missions and support for the anti-ISIL Coalition.” [SFRC, 7/27/2015]

Parliamentary elections after New Suez Canal inauguration
Major General Refaat Komsan, Election Affairs Advisor to Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, said the High Elections Commission will begin preparations for parliamentary elections after the inauguration of the New Suez Canal. The House of Representatives will be elected before the end of this year, Komsan said on Monday, adding that the New Urban Communities Authority, an agency under the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Development, will be granted independent seats in the parliament. In the latest revision of the constituencies law, the size of some of the 250 electoral constituencies was reduced to increase opportunities for women candidates, according to Komsan, who expects the new parliament to include around eighty female MPs. [Egypt Independent, 7/28/2015]  

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  • Brotherhood lashes out at Nour Party cofounder for winning Harvard scholarship | Mada Masr

Constitutionality of presidential decree on regulatory bodies challenged
The members’ club at the Central Auditing Organization (CAO) are challenging the constitutionality of the recently issued law on regulatory bodies, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported. The members’ club have requested to join a lawsuit filed against the head of the organization, Hisham Geneina, as second defendants. The lawsuit, which calls for Geneina’s dismissal from his position, has been postponed by the court to October 13 in response to the members’ club’s request to join the case. The members’ club made this move in objection to the recently issued law, which violates the independence of the organization and its members, according to statements made by the club’s spokesperson. [DNE, 7/28/2015]  

Administrative Court rejects Arab Sharkas appeal, posthumously upholds death sentence
The Administrative Court upheld on Monday the death sentences for six members of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM), also known as Sinai State, which were handed down last October by a military court. The ruling by the Administrative Court comes more than two months after the prisoners were executed. The death sentences were carried out by hanging on May 17 based on murder convictions in a military trial in October of 2014. On August 26, 2014, a military court referred the death sentences of the six convicts to Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam before the court rulings were ratified by Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhi on November 11, 2014. [Ahram Online, Cairo Post, 7/28/2015]  

Also of Interest

  • Trial of Morsi, twenty-four others over ‘insulting the judiciary’ adjourned to October 1 | DNE, Egypt Independent

Armed forces to establish North Sinai development company
Governor of North Sinai Major General Abdel Fattah Harhour has announced the establishment of a national company for the development of North Sinai. The company will invest in various areas of economy, industry, and agriculture, Harhour said in a press conference held in the Beir al-Abd industrial area. The company’s headquarters is yet to be determined, he added, pointing out that it’s shares would be offered to the public with priority given to Sinai residents. The company will be established in cooperation with the Ayadi Company for Development and Investment, the National Service Products Organization of the armed forces, and the Sinai Development Authority. [Egypt Independent, 7/28/2015]  

Also of Interest

  • Transport Ministry signs MoU with Siemens company | Egypt Independent
  • Russian delegation in Egypt for industrial zone project | Egypt Independent
  • Egyptian pound steady at official auction and exchange bureaus | Reuters

Egypt’s health minister shuts down pharmaceutical factory after child deaths
Egypt’s Health Minister Adel al-Adawy on Monday shut down a pharmaceutical factory producing rehydration medication following the death of four children and the illness of up to thirty others in Beni Suef. According to a statement by the ministry, Adawy decided to form a committee comprised of senior pediatricians to follow the health of the infected children. The minister also suspended the use of Rehydran, the rehydration medication used in all hospitals, until further tests are conducted. The incident has been referred to the general prosecution for investigations, according to the health ministry. [Ahram Online, DNE, 7/28/2015]   

Publishing ban ordered in judge’s sexual bribe case
Prosecution services have ordered a publication ban concerning investigations into accusations against a judge who allegedly asked a lady for a “sexual bribe” in return for judging in her favor in a lawsuit she had filed with him. The decree bans reporting on the investigations via all audio, video, online and print media, either local or foreign. The public prosecution filed a claim on Saturday evening accusing the head of a misdemeanor court in Nasr City, Ramy Abdel Hady, of demanding sexual favors in return for biased rulings in cases he presided over, according to judicial sources. The Supreme Judicial Council approved the resignation submitted by the judge on Sunday morning, the sources added. [Egypt Independent, 7/28/2015]  

Fresh detainee torture claims emerge from Tora Prison
New allegations of torture have surfaced, as rights groups accuse interior ministry authorities of depriving detainees of medical attention. Mohamed Abdel Aziz, a lawyer and the head of Haqanya law firm, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that a convict serving a five-year sentence over protests in 2013 has been enduring “moral and physical torture” in prison. Local NGO, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms said Sunday that authorities at Tora Prison have denied epilepsy medication for Hany Halim, a suspect arrested in April 2014 over charges of affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and financing its protests. He has yet to be referred to trial. The organization has also said that it recorded 143 prison deaths from June 30, 2013 to June 1, 2015 due to poor medical care. Several allegations of prison torture have been reported since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, with a number of them leading to death. The Interior Ministry systematically rejects the claims but has referred some of its workers to interrogators in a number of cases. [Egypt Independent, 7/28/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Trade unions lobbying fiercely against civil service law | Egypt Independent
  • ADEW launches campaign against custodian councils | Egypt Independent
  • Greste expects ‘Not Guilty’ for all involved in Al Jazeera trial | Aswat Masriya
  • Hepatitis C infection rate drops to 7 percent, says Minister | Aswat Masriya 
  • Artifacts discovered in Aswan may shed light on ancient mining and jewelry industry | Mada Masr
  • Public sector workers protest civil service law, plan more protests in August | Mada Masr  

Egypt police kill two Ajnad Misr militants in gun battle in Giza: MENA
Egyptian police have killed two men suspected of involvement in violence against the state, state news agency MENA reported late Monday. A security source told MENA that police had obtained information that two members of the Islamist militant group Ajnad Misr were present in an apartment on Faisal Street, Giza. MENA reported that the “terrorists” opened fire on officers upon their arrival at the apartment, “prompting police to shoot [the two men] dead.” Ajnad Misr has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks against police in Cairo, including an explosion near the Ittihadiya presidential palace in June 2014 that killed two police officers, and a blast outside the foreign ministry in September of the same year that also left two policemen dead. [Ahram Online, 7/28/2015]  

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Egypt’s ranking in State Department trafficking report drops
According to the latest annual report from the US State Department, which rates 188 countries on their efforts to stamp out trafficking in persons, Egypt dropped from Tier 2 to the Tier 2 Watch List. Egypt’s change in ranking was attributed to its poor record of addressing the sexual exploitation of women and children. This year’s report said that while the country had set up a national anti-trafficking hotline, its efforts to address the problem focused on Egyptian nationals, not foreign trafficking victims. Secretary of State John Kerry says the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report aims to enlighten, energize and empower activists fighting the “human trafficking industry” across every continent. Countries in the report are divided into three tiers. Tier 1 countries are those whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards. Governments of Tier 2 countries do not fully comply with the TVPA minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. The Tier 2 Watch List applies to those where the number of trafficking victims is very significant or is significantly increasing, and there’s a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year. Governments of Tier 3 countries do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. Meanwhile, a total of 339 people, including four human traffickers were reportedly arrested Monday while attempting to illegally travel to Libya through Egypt’s Western Desert towns of Sallum, Siwa, and Matrouh. [Egypt Independent, 7/28/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Kerry heads for Egypt and the Gulf to discuss Iran deal, ISIS | Reuters
  • Egyptian fishermen held in Sudan for ‘political’ reasons, head of syndicate says | Ahram Online  
  • Egypt’s foreign ministry condemns Bahrain bomb attack | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s foreign ministry condemns deadly attack in Somalia | Ahram Online
  • UAE State Minister: Evidence is clear; Egypt navigating towards success | Egypt Independent
  • Shoukry holds talks with Omani counterpart | SIS
  • Shoukry, Erekat probe latest Palestinian developments | SIS  
  • 187 Egyptians return from Libya in 24 hours | Egypt Independent
  • Illegal migration attempt to Libya involving 225 Egyptians foiled | Egypt Independent