Country Reports on Human Rights Practices -
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
National Democratic Party (NDP) has governed the Arab Republic of Egypt,
with a population of approximately 79 million, since the party's
establishment in 1978. The NDP, which continued to dominate national
politics by maintaining an overriding majority in the popularly elected
People's Assembly and the partially elected Shura (Consultative)
Council, derives its governing authority from the 1971 constitution and
subsequent amendments. Executive authority resides with the president
and the cabinet. In 2005 President Hosni Mubarak won a fifth six-year
term with 88 percent of the vote in the country's first presidential
election, a landmark event that was marred by low voter turnout and
charges of fraud. The civilian authorities generally maintained
effective control of the security forces, which committed numerous,
serious abuses of human rights.
government's respect for human rights remained poor, and serious abuses
continued in many areas. The government limited citizens' right to
change their government and continued a state of emergency, in place
almost continuously since 1967. Security forces tortured and abused
prisoners and detainees, in many cases with impunity. Prison and
detention center conditions were poor. Security forces arbitrarily
arrested and detained individuals and kept them in prolonged pretrial
detention. The executive branch placed limits on and pressured the
judiciary. Security forces held political prisoners and detainees. The
government's respect for freedoms of press, association, and religion
declined during the year, and the government continued to restrict other
civil liberties, particularly freedom of speech, including Internet
freedom, and freedom of assembly, including restrictions on
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Corruption and lack of
transparency persisted. Discrimination and violence against women,
including female genital mutilation (FGM), continued.
the year the government and civil society took steps to combat FGM,
including a Ministry of Health decree banning the practice.
FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
Arbitrary and Unlawful Deprivation of Life
government did not commit any politically motivated killings; however,
there were reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary
or unlawful killings during the year.
April 25, police in the Sinai killed one Bedouin after he refused to
stop at checkpoint. Bedouin leaders protested the killing.
22, security personnel shot and killed a woman from Darfur as she
attempted to illegally cross into Israel with a group of 26 other
31, according to the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR),
police arrested and beat Nasr Ahmed Abdallah el-Saeedi in the
Al-Mansoura governorate. Police officer Mohamed Moawad reportedly
battered el-Saeedi with his pistol. Police officers took el-Saeedi to
Al-Mansoura police station, where he died from his injuries shortly
thereafter. The chief prosecutor in Al-Mansoura ordered the detention of
the officers involved but later released Chief of Investigations Captain
Mohamed Qandil, Corporal Saber al-Beltagy, and detective Ahmed Hussein.
On August 28, the independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported
that two witnesses testified that police officer Mohamed Awad and three
of his assistants, Yasser Mekawy, Ahmed Saad Azim, and Sherif Saad,
tortured el-Saeedi and inflicted injuries leading to his death. All
three of the officers were convicted; two were sentenced to seven years
in prison, and the third to three years.
August 8 report Torture in Egypt: Criminals Escaping Punishment,
the EOHR reported three cases of death in custody due to torture during
the first seven months of the year.
August 12, the family of 13-year-old Mohamed Mamdouh Abdel Aziz filed a
complaint with the public prosecutor that their son died as a result of
torture in police custody. In late July police arrested and detained
Aziz after he was accused of stealing from a shop. On August 9, when his
parents attempted to pick him up from the police station, they found him
badly beaten. On August 11, Aziz died in the hospital, where he had been
taken by his family. His brother later told the media that burns on the
boy's body appeared to have been caused by electric shocks, but the
authorities asserted that Aziz's government-produced coronary
examination showed he died from a pulmonary infection. At the public
prosecutor's request, a tripartite committee composed of government
officials reported that Aziz died due to medical negligence and asserted
that the police had committed no crime. At year's end the boy's family
continued to charge that three police officers, Chief of Investigations
Captain Mohamed Qandil, police officer Abou el-Ezz Fathy Mansour, and
detective Yasser Mekawy, tortured their son. Following the tripartite
committee's report, the public prosecutor froze the investigation. On
October 23, Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Dustour reported that
the family's lawyer submitted a petition to lift the freeze on the case.
There were no further developments at year's end.
August 12, the EOHR reported that it received a complaint from the
family of Nasser Sediq Gadallah stating that police from Al-Omraneya
police station raided Nasser's brother's home and beat family members
while searching for Nasser. On August 7, Nasser had submitted a
complaint accusing the police of extorting a bribe. When police found
Nasser, they reportedly beat Nasser in front of his wife and children
and then threw him from the fourth floor of the building. The
government-controlled press later reported that Nasser died trying to
escape from police. The public prosecution referred the case to the
Cairo Court of Appeals to investigate officer Ahmed Al-Nawawi after
other police officials testified against him.
August the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid (AHRLA) filed a
complaint with the public prosecutor requesting an investigation into
the death of taxi driver Ahmed Shawky al-Deeb in Ain Shams police
station. AHRLA also requested the release of a forensic report
determining the cause of al-Deeb's death. In early August police had
detained al-Deeb after stopping him at a check point in Ain Shams.
Despite a court order for al-Deeb's release, he remained in custody. On
August 6, the head of investigations at Ain Shams station and two
detectives informed al-Deeb's uncle that al-Deeb died in custody.
According to AHRLA, an initial medical report confirmed that al-Deeb
suffered injuries on various parts of the body.
September 17, border police opened fire against six Eritreans attempting
to illegally cross into Israel after they refused to stop, killing one
were reports of violence during the June Shura Council elections. On
June 11, the EOHR reported that Ahmed Abdel Salam Ghanem died after an
exchange of gunfire between supporters of the NDP and independent
September 3, the Cairo Criminal Court acquitted State Security
Investigative Service (SSIS) Captain Ashraf Mostafa Hussein Safwat of
torturing detainee Mohamed Abdel Kader al-Sayed to death in 2003.
Several human rights organizations noted that this was the first
attempted government prosecution of an SSIS officer in at least two
reported cases from 2005 and 2006 of killings by security forces
remained unresolved. There continued to be no investigation into January
2006 reports that 19 Islamist prisoners died in captivity of unspecified
causes in 2005. There were no additional developments in the case of
Yousef Khamis Ibrahim, an Alexandria man whose family alleged he was
killed by police in March 2006.
were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
42 of the constitution prohibits the infliction of "physical or moral
harm" upon persons who have been arrested or detained. Article 126 of
the penal code penalizes civil servants or public employees who order or
carry out acts of torture. However, police, security personnel, and
prison guards routinely tortured and abused prisoners and detainees.
and authorizing torture are felonies punishable by three to 10 years'
imprisonment. If death results from torture, the crime is considered
intentional murder and is punishable by a life sentence. Abuse of power
to inflict cruelty against persons is punishable by imprisonment and
fines. Victims may bring a criminal or civil action for compensation
against the responsible government agency. There is no statute of
limitations in such cases. The penal code fails to account for mental or
psychological abuse; abuse against persons who have not been formally
accused; or abuse occurring for reasons other than securing a
were numerous, credible reports that security forces tortured and
mistreated prisoners and detainees. Domestic and international human
rights groups reported that the SSIS, police, and other government
entities continued to employ torture to extract information or force
confessions. In numerous trials, defendants alleged that police tortured
them during questioning. Although the government investigated torture
complaints in some criminal cases and punished some offending police
officers, punishments generally did not conform to the seriousness of
Principal methods of torture and abuse reportedly employed by the police
and the SSIS included stripping and blindfolding victims; suspending
victims by the wrists and ankles in contorted positions or from a
ceiling or doorframe with feet just touching the floor; beating victims
with fists, whips, metal rods, or other objects; using electric shocks;
dousing victims with cold water; and sexual abuse, including sodomy.
Victims reported being subjected to threats and being forced to sign
blank papers for use against themselves or their families should they in
the future lodge complaints about the torture. Some victims, including
women and children, reported sexual assaults or threats of rape against
themselves or family members. Human rights groups reported that the lack
of written police records, as required by law, often effectively blocked
occurred frequently in cases of detentions under the Emergency Law,
applied almost continuously since 1967, which authorizes incommunicado
detention for prolonged periods.
the year human rights groups and the media documented numerous cases of
torture. In its August 8 report on torture in the country, the EOHR
stated that between 1993 and July 2007, it documented more than 567
cases of torture inside police stations, including 167 deaths that the
EOHR concluded were caused by torture and mistreatment. According to the
report, between January and August police officers tortured 26
individuals, resulting in three deaths.
Beginning in 2006 and continuing during the year, human rights activists
called attention to more than a dozen amateur videos taken by observers
with mobile phone cameras and circulated on the Internet that documented
abuse and torture of detainees by security officials.
According to January press reports, 100 detainees affiliated with
Islamic Jihad filed complaints with the public prosecutor alleging that
police officers tortured and abused them during unspecified periods of
time. The detainees reported that authorities stripped them of their
clothes, beat and verbally humiliated them, and confiscated their
personal belongings. The public prosecutor had not responded by year's
February 1, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported a police assault on Ihab
Magdy Farouk, a Giza resident, which was documented in a widely
circulated video clip. Ihab accused police officers Karim Abdallah Abdel
Mohsen and Ahmed Abdel Fattah of assaulting him. In late February the
Imbaba Misdemeanor Court ruled that officer Abdel Mohsen was not guilty
but convicted officer Fattah of cruelty and sentenced him to one year in
February 27, according to the Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of
Victims of Torture, security forces detained Fawzi Hassan and his
children for 17 days and subjected them to electric shocks and beatings.
Police had accused one of Fawzi's sons of theft, but the court acquitted
him prior to the arrests. The Nadim Center accused a number of officers,
including Mohamed El-Banna, Mohamed Sarhan, Mohsen Nagib, Mohamed
el-Ashmawy, Mesbah el-Kasabi, and Mohamed Shalabi, of involvement in the
March 19, Human Rights Watch (HRW) requested that the Ministry of
Interior (MOI) investigate and prosecute the security official
responsible for torturing and sexually assaulting blogger Mohamed Al
Sharqawi, who was detained between May and July 2006. Police had
arrested Sharqawi twice after he participated in demonstrations
supporting judicial independence. Police charged Sharqawi with chanting
slogans against the regime liable to disturb public order and social
peace, insulting the president, insulting and assaulting officials in
the course of performing their duties, "calling for an unlicensed
assembly," and disrupting traffic. Sharqawi reported that police beat
and sodomized him at Cairo's Qasr Al Nil police station. The police
released Sharqawi in July 2006. By year's end, authorities had not
investigated Sharqawi's complaints.
According to media reports, on July 9, Yehia Abdallah Atoum, whom Siwa
police accused of petty theft, testified that police officer Alaa Mousa
ordered a detective to hang, beat, and electrically shock him. Yehia
alleged that on July 2, police officer Mohamed al-Khodargy poured
alcohol on and ignited his body at Siwa police station. On a doctor's
recommendation, police transferred him to a hospital between July 2 and
9, where he stayed for nine days before officers forcibly put him on a
truck bound for Libya. He subsequently returned to Egypt.
17, local media reported that prosecutors inspecting the Al-Montaza
police station in Alexandria where police illegally detained 40
individuals, found whips, clubs, and a barbed wire-studded stick. The
prosecutor's office ordered the release of the detainees and the
confiscation of the equipment but by year's end had not conducted any
August 27, lawyer Ahmed Abdel Aziz accused the assistant investigations
officer at Cairo's Shubra police station, Ashraf Morgan, of assaulting,
beating, and injuring him. MOI officials transferred the accused police
officer to the Qalyubia security department and opened an investigation
into the charges. By year's end, the investigation remained pending.
press statements, government officials asserted that torture is not
systematic in prisons and that any torture occurs only in isolated
instances. On June 24, according to press reports, Minister of Interior
Habib al-Adly stated that torture occurs rarely, and that accusations of
abuse are immediately brought to the ministry's attention and
transferred to the public prosecutor's office.
the government's Central Audit Agency directed the MOI to require any
security or police officers found responsible for torture to be
financially liable for any judgments levied against the ministry. During
the year the press reported several incidents in which groups and
individual victims of security force abuse received court-ordered
financial compensation. Unlike in previous years, hundreds of other
detainees were awarded compensation by the courts. According to press
reports, in March a Cairo court ruled in favor of 456 detainees to
receive compensation after the detainees had filed cases against the MOI
alleging torture and abuse. However, by year's end, most of the
detainees had not received their compensation and at least 300 other
compensation cases remained pending at the State Council.
February 6, press reports stated that the Alexandria Administrative
Court ordered Minister of Interior Habib al-Adly to pay $5,263 (LE
30,000) to a citizen who was illegally detained for five months in 1999.
According to February 12 press reports, the Human Rights Center for the
Assistance of Prisoners won six lawsuits in favor of political detainees
who received financial compensation based on claims that they had been
subjected to torture during their detention. The compensation amounts
ranged from $1,228 to $4,385 (LE 7,000 to LE 25,000).
8, in response to an administrative court order, the MOI began paying
financial compensation to as many as 15,000 persons who had been
illegally detained due to their affiliations with Islamic Jihad and
Al-Jamaa'aa Al-Islamiya (Islamic Group). The compensation amounts ranged
from $2,631 to $5,263 (LE 15,000 to 30,000) for each detainee.
the year the government continued efforts to hold some security
personnel accountable for torturing prisoners in custody, but courts
generally sentenced officers to much less than the maximum available
penalty. Human rights organizations and the press reported that at least
seven police officers in four separate cases faced criminal trials or
civil suits during the year. Some of the cases involved incidents that
took place in previous years.
February 20, the Agouza Misdemeanors Court charged three police officers
with misuse of authority and cruelty towards Ahmed Samir al-Malah. The
court convicted the three officers and sentenced them each to three
months in jail.
8, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced police officer Salah Saeed Awad to
five years imprisonment for causing permanent injuries in 2001 to
brothers Haggag Mohamed Haggag, Magdy Mohamed Haggag, and to a third
brother whom the court did not name. The court also ordered Awad to pay
$351 (LE 2,001) as compensation.
November 5, the Giza Criminal Court convicted police officers Islam
Nabih and Reda Fathi of assaulting and sodomizing Imad al-Kabir, a Cairo
minibus driver, in January 2006. Nabih and Fathi faced up to 15 years
for the crime, but the court handed down the minimum three-year
sentence. Both officers, expected to appeal while remaining in
detention, were removed from duty.
9, the Giza Criminal Court sentenced Major Yasser Ibrahim al-Akkad, head
of the criminal investigations unit in the Haram police station in Giza,
to six months imprisonment for torturing actress Habiba while
investigating the 1999 killing of her husband. The court ruled, however,
that the sentence would not be imposed if Major Yasser avoided any
misconduct for three years, and suspended Yasser from duty for one year,
leaving open the possibility that Yasser could return to duty.
the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), supported by
approximately 12 other human rights NGOs, petitioned the African
Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) to hear evidence
concerning assaults on journalists and opposition demonstrators by
government supporters during the 2005 referendum.
November 2006 a state security court in Ismailiya convicted two
defendants of involvement in the 2004 Taba bombings, sentencing them to
death. At year's end they remained on death row.
government did not permit a visit during the year by the UN special
rapporteur on torture, who had been seeking to make an official visit
and Detention Center Conditions
conditions remained poor. In September the ACHPR carried out the first
public visit by an outside observer since 1981 to Cairo's Tora prison.
At year's end the ACHPR had not yet released a report. During the year
the government did not permit visits by any other international human
the year the EOHR and the Human Rights Association for the Assistance of
Prisoners (HRAAP) reported deteriorating conditions in prisons,
particularly overcrowded cells, a lack of medical care, proper hygiene,
food, clean water, and proper ventilation. Tuberculosis was widespread.
Some prisons continued to be closed to the public.
1, Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Akhbar reported that a prisoner
in Al-Omraneya prison died in custody due to heat and overcrowding.
separate prison facilities existed for men, women, and juveniles, adults
were not always separated from juveniles, and abuse of minors was
common. On July 31, the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR)
reported that sexual abuse and assault occurred in a number of prisons
during the year, citing the housing of adults with juveniles as a
contributing factor in these assaults. The report also attributed poor
prison conditions to a lack of judicial oversight.
According to reports issued on March 16, the Human Rights Committee of
the Peoples' Assembly criticized prison conditions, stating that the
government had not constructed a new prison in 25 years. The committee
requested the government to initiate contracts with doctors and experts
to work inside prisons and strengthen respect for prisoners' rights. At
year's end the government had not responded.
April 2006 the parliament's Human Rights Committee requested that
prisoners be permitted to meet with their wives as a means of preserving
family ties and reducing HIV/AIDS among prisoners.
to implement judicial rulings regarding the release of administrative
detainees and limits on permitting prison visits remained a problem.
Relatives and lawyers often were unable to obtain regular access to
prisons for visits. Special restrictions were placed on the number of
visits and visitors to prisoners incarcerated for political crimes or
required by law, the public prosecutor continued to inspect all regular
prisons during the year. According to press reports, the office
conducted unannounced visits to 17 prisons in seven governorates.
Inspection delegations reportedly criticized a number of deficiencies
including poor food, limited visits by inmates' families, weak
administrative procedures, and significant overcrowding. Findings of
these visits were not made public. SSIS detention centers were excluded
from mandatory judicial inspection.
were permitted to visit prisoners in their capacity as legal counsel;
however, they often faced bureaucratic obstacles preventing them from
meeting with their clients. The International Committee of the Red Cross
and other international and domestic human rights monitors did not have
access to prisons or to other places of detention, despite their
Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, during
the year, police and security forces conducted large-scale arrests and
detained hundreds of individuals without charge under the Emergency Law.
Continuing a trend begun in 2005, the government arrested and detained
hundreds of activists affiliated with the banned-but-tolerated Muslim
Brotherhood (MB), generally for periods lasting several weeks. The
government continued to use the Emergency Law under the official state
of emergency to try non-security cases in the emergency courts and to
restrict many other basic rights. Police also arbitrarily arrested and
detained hundreds of persons involved with unlicensed demonstrations.
The government also arrested, detained, and abused several Internet
EOHR estimated that between 12,000 and 14,000 individuals remained in
prison without charges or despite receiving release orders from the
February 22, the Muharram Bey Court sentenced university student and
blogger Karim Amer to four years in prison, charging him with spreading
information disruptive of public order and damaging to the country's
reputation, incitement to hate Islam, and defaming the president. At
year's end he remained in prison.
April 15, police detained blogger, Ikhwanweb (Muslim Brotherhood Web
site) reporter, and correspondent for the Cairo-based British Hewar
channel Abdel Moneim Mahmoud at the Cairo airport. On May 31,
authorities released him on the orders of the high state security
were varied and conflicting estimates of the number of "extraordinary
detainees," (citizens held by the government, often without trial, for
alleged political crimes). In 2006 credible domestic and international
NGOs estimated that there were between 6,000 and 10,000 such detainees
in addition to those prisoners in the ordinary criminal justice system.
The government did not release any official data on detainees. In April
2006, citing a senior MOI source, leading journalist Salama A. Salama
reported that there were at least 4,000 detainees. The government held a
number of detainees, including many MB activists, for periods ranging
from several weeks to several months. Detention periods of more than 10
years occurred in other cases, particularly in those involving Islamist
extremists belonging to the Islamic Group or Islamic Jihad who were
detained by the government during the 1990s.
Police and Security Apparatus
and national law enforcement agencies fall under the jurisdiction of the
MOI. Local police operate in large cities and governorates. The ministry
controls the SSIS, which conducts investigations, and the Central
Security Force (CSF), which maintains public order. SSIS and CSF
officers are responsible for law enforcement at the national level and
for providing security for infrastructure and key officials, both
domestic and foreign. Single-mission law enforcement agencies, such as
the Tourist and Antiquities Police and the Antinarcotics General
Administration, also work at the national level. The security forces
operated under a central chain of command and were considered generally
effective in their efforts to combat crime and terrorism and maintain
public order. However, a culture of impunity militated against
systematic prosecution of security personnel who committed human rights
was widespread petty corruption in the police force, especially below
senior levels. According to government statements, it investigated
corruption and other instances of police malfeasance using an internal
affairs mechanism but did not publicize how this process worked. The
government prosecuted such cases in the judicial system. In addition to
acceptance of bribes or simple theft, security forces committed assault
Impunity was a serious problem. The government failed to investigate and
punish many instances of credible allegations of mistreatment by police
and security forces. However, there were at least four cases in which
the government investigated and prosecuted security officers of
mistreatment and abuse during the year, resulting in convictions of
seven officers. Human rights monitors believed most incidents of torture
with the UN Development Program (UNDP), the government continued to
provide human rights training for thousands of judicial and law
year's end the public prosecutor had not brought any action against
security personnel for several unresolved incidents in 2005, including
documented assaults on citizens during the parliamentary elections and
violence against Sudanese asylum seekers.
Emergency Law allows detention of an individual without charge for up to
30 days, only after which a detainee may demand a court hearing to
challenge the legality of the detention order. Detainees may resubmit a
motion for a hearing at one-month intervals thereafter. There is no
limit to the detention period if a judge continues to uphold the
detention order or if the detainee fails to exercise his right to a
hearing. Incommunicado detention is authorized for prolonged periods by
internal prison regulations. Human rights groups and the UN Committee
Against Torture expressed concern over the application of measures of
cases tried under the Emergency Law, the government restricted or denied
access to counsel prior to the transfer of the accused to a courtroom to
begin legal proceedings. Many detainees under the Emergency Law remained
incommunicado in state security detention facilities without access to
lawyers. After these cases are transferred to trial, the court appoints
a lawyer. Under the penal code, family members have access to detainees
at the discretion of the court, but the degree of access varied from
case to case and was difficult to characterize.
recent years, authorities detained thousands of persons administratively
under the Emergency Law on suspicion of terrorist or political activity.
Authorities convicted and sentenced several thousand others on similar
charges. During the year HRAAP and other NGOs estimated that the total
number of persons in administrative detention was approximately 10,000.
HRAAP estimated that authorities released an additional 10,000 persons
in the past three years. Government officials disputed this figure but
did not provide authoritative data on detainees.
penal code also gives the government broad detention powers. Prosecutors
must bring charges within 48 hours following detention or release the
suspect. However, authorities may hold a suspect for a maximum of six
months while they investigate. Arrests under the penal code occurred
openly and with warrants issued by a district prosecutor or judge. There
was a functioning system of bail for persons detained under the penal
code but none for persons detained under the Emergency Law. The Penal
Code contains several provisions to combat extremist violence, which
broadly defines terrorism to include the acts of "spreading panic" and
"obstructing the work of authorities."
Notwithstanding the prevailing state of emergency and the government's
use of the Emergency Law provisions, the government continued to rely on
the Penal Code for the vast majority of criminal investigations and
prosecutions. In criminal cases investigated and prosecuted under the
penal code, defendants generally had access to counsel promptly after
March 11, authorities released cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr ("Abu
Omar") from detention, without trial. In 2003 authorities detained Omar
under the Emergency Law and charged him with belonging to an illegal
29, police detained Mamdouh Ismail, a lawyer active in defending
Islamist detainees, and accused him of belonging to Islamic Jihad and
defaming the country's image. On July 14, he was released on court
authorities began to release several groups of Bedouins who had been
detained without charge following the October 2004 bombings in Taba.
Press reports indicated that the government released at least 73
Bedouins by year's end.
security forces detained dozens of individuals in Sinai, in connection
with ongoing investigations into the terror attacks there in 2004, 2005,
and April 2006. At year's end there were no reliable estimates of the
total number of suspects detained in the Sinai.
previous years, the government arrested and detained hundreds of MB
members and supporters without charge or trial. The precise number of MB
activists in detention at year's end was unknown, but estimates ranged
from 900 to more than 3,000. Detention periods for MB members ranged
from hours to several months, pending investigative outcomes. The
government held many of the detainees for relatively brief periods, but
others were held for months, such as political bureau member Essam
el-Erian, who authorities arrested on August 17 and held until early
February 6, a military tribunal convened to try Khairat al-Shatir and 39
senior MB associates on charges of funding a banned organization and
working to overthrow the government. At year's end the tribunal was
ongoing; 33 individuals remained in custody, and seven others were tried
December 2006 several dozen Al-Azhar university students affiliated with
the MB conducted a "militia-style" parade clad in black balaclavas and
demonstrating martial arts exercises. Although MB leadership distanced
itself from the demonstrators and reiterated its commitment to peaceful
change, the government arrested several hundred MB members and
sympathizers in response to the demonstration, including the
organization's third-ranking official, al-Shatir, and several other
businessmen who were thought to be leading financiers of the MB.
According to press reports in April, authorities released the last 40
detained members of Al-Jamaa'aa Al-Islamiya. This was part of the
government's effort to release detainees in return for their pledging to
the MOI released 300 members of the banned Al-Takfeer wa al-Hijra
(Excommunicate and Immigrate) group after they agreed to renounce
government continued to release Islamic Jihad members throughout the
year. According to press reports, on June 2, authorities released 130
Islamic Jihad members from Al Fayoum prison after hundreds of Jihadists
signed ideological revisions initially created by Sayed Imam, founder
and leader of Islamic Jihad. The revisions primarily entailed the
abandonment of violence. In July authorities released another group of
47 and in August another 300. On October 26, the press reported that 60
non-violent Salafists were released from detention. According to a
November 4 press report, 400 members of the Al Takfir wa Al Hijra group
were released from prison after they signed documents renouncing
According to December 19 press reports, 919 prisoners were released as a
result of the Eid al-Adha presidential pardon, of whom 161 were subject
to some form of continued monitoring.
Denial of Fair Public Trial
constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but it is subject to
executive influence. The president may invoke the Emergency Law to refer
any criminal case to the emergency courts or military courts, in which
the accused does not receive most of the constitutional protections of
the civilian judicial system. The constitution provides for the
independence and immunity of judges and forbids interference by other
authorities in the exercise of their judicial functions. The government
generally respected judicial independence in non-political cases in
civilian courts. Emergency courts, however, were not independent.
president appoints all judges upon recommendation of the Higher Judicial
Council, a constitutional body composed of senior judges. Judges receive
tenure, limited only by mandatory retirement at age 64. Only the Higher
Judicial Council may dismiss judges for cause, such as corruption.
Headed by the president of the Court of Cassation, the council regulates
judicial promotions and transfers. The government included lectures on
human rights and other social issues in its training courses for
prosecutors and judges.
civil court system, there are criminal courts, civil courts,
administrative courts, and the Supreme Constitutional Court. There are
three levels of regular criminal courts: primary courts; appeals courts;
and the Court of Cassation, which represents the final stage of criminal
appeal. Civil courts hear civil cases and administrative courts hear
cases contesting government actions or procedures; both systems have
upper-level courts to hear appeals. The Supreme Constitutional Court
hears challenges to the constitutionality of laws or verdicts in any of
According to a 1993 supreme constitutional court decision, the president
may invoke the Emergency Law to refer any crime, including charges
against civilians, to a military court. Military verdicts were subject
to a review by other military judges and confirmation by the president,
who in practice usually delegated the review function to a senior
military officer. Defense attorneys claimed that they were not given
sufficient time to prepare, and that military judges tended to rush
cases involving a large number of defendants.
February 6 commencement of the closed military tribunal against 40 MB
defendants marked the first use of a military tribunal against civilians
since those against the MB between 2001 and 2002. The tribunal commenced
and continued despite four rulings by civil courts ordering the
government to release the defendants and try them before civilian
courts. Press and observers from human rights organizations continued to
be barred from the tribunal; on occasion, defense attorneys and family
members were also barred.
used guidelines for sentencing, defendants had the right to counsel, and
statements of the charges against defendants were made public. Observers
needed government permission to attend court sessions. Human rights
activists are generally able to attend trials in civilian courts but are
excluded from most military trials.
government provides a lawyer at the state's expense if the defendant
does not have counsel, and defendants may appeal if denied this right.
The Bar Association maintains a roster of lawyers eligible to serve as
public defenders. Although defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence,
detainees in certain high-security prisons continued to allege that they
were denied access to counsel or that such access was delayed until
trial, thus denying time to prepare an adequate defense. The law
provides defendants and their attorneys the right to access evidence
against them and that a woman's testimony is equal to a man's in court.
No juries are used.
provides that defendants question witnesses against them and present
witnesses on their behalf.
emergency courts share jurisdiction with military courts over crimes
affecting national security. The president can appoint civilian judges
to the emergency courts upon the recommendation of the minister of
justice or military judges upon recommendation of the minister of
defense. Sentences are subject to confirmation by the president. There
is no right to appeal. The president may alter or annul a decision of an
emergency court, including a decision to release a defendant.
government has asserted that referral to emergency courts usually has
been limited to terrorism or national security cases, as well as major
cases of drug trafficking; however, the government also has occasionally
used emergency courts to prosecute homosexuals, heterodox religious
groups, and political dissidents. Government authorities ignored
judicial orders in some cases. The government used the Emergency Law to
try cases outside the scope of combating terrorism and grave threats to
Al-Nakhlawi, Younis Alyan, and Mohamed Gayez Sabah, all facing trial
before the State Security Emergency Court for involvement in the 2004
Taba terror bombings, remained on death row at year's end. In November
2006 the High State Security Emergency Court in Ismailiya announced that
the Mufti of the Republic, Ali Goma'a, approved the court's conviction
and death sentences in these cases. The HRW issued statements after the
verdict noting that the convicts' claims of incommunicado detention,
denied access to counsel, and allegations of torture and forced
confession raised serious questions about the verdict, and urged the
government to permit the men to be re-tried "in a trial that complies
with basic standards of due process." The ACHPR, Amnesty International
(AI), and other NGOs also called for a stay of execution. At year's end
the three remained on death row.
August 20, the Higher State Security Court in Cairo sentenced four
persons involved in the 2005 al-Azhar and Abdul-Moneim Riyad terror
bombings in Cairo to life in prison, sentenced four to between one and
10 years in prison, and ordered five released, including two female
defendants. The EOHR demanded the retrial of the convicted individuals
before normal courts due to the fact that State Security Courts do not
allow the right to appeal.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
were political prisoners and detainees.
31, the State Council's Court of Administrative Justice rejected Ayman
Nour's request for parole on health and humanitarian grounds, following
a separate May 31 New Cairo Felonies Court ruling against a similar
request from Public Prosecutor Abdel Mequid Mahmoud. In May 2006 the
Court of Cassation, the country's highest appeals court, upheld Nour's
five-year prison sentence handed down in 2005 by Adel Abdel-Salaam Gomaa
of the New Cairo Felonies Court. The court convicted Nour, runner-up in
the 2005 presidential election and leader of the opposition al-Ghad
(Tomorrow) Party, of forging proxy signatures on his party's
registration papers. In 2006 Nour also faced dozens of charges ranging
from assault to insulting Islam. Human rights organizations and Nour's
supporters charged that his detention and trial had been politically
motivated and failed to meet basic international standards. His
supporters reported that his health was deteriorating as a result of
imprisonment and insufficient medical care. Nour, a diabetic with heart
disease, remained in prison at year's end.
observers regarded the large number of arrested, detained, and sometimes
convicted members of the MB as political prisoners and detainees.
Approximately 20 members of the banned Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic
Liberation Party) remained in prison at year's end. In 2004 the Supreme
State Security Emergency Court convicted 26 men linked to Hizb al-Tahrir
for belonging to a banned organization. Several of the defendants,
including three Britons, alleged they had been tortured to compel them
to sign confessions.
According to the EOHR, there were between 8,000 and 10,000 persons
detained without charge on suspicion of illegal terrorist or political
activity. In addition, several thousand prisoners were serving sentences
after being convicted of similar charges.
government did not permit international humanitarian organizations
access to political prisoners.
Judicial Procedures and Remedies
rights observers recommended that rules for pursuing judicial and
administrative remedies, including standards for considering damages for
victims, be established to obtain equitable redress and parity in
April 19, the Egyptian Center for Housing Rights, in cooperation with
the "Nubian Follow-up Committee" in Alexandria and the Nubian Heritage
Association in Aswan, organized a conference for Nubian citizens calling
on President Mubarak to grant them the right to return to lands that the
government had confiscated prior to the construction of the High Dam in
Aswan. The Nubian activists charged that the houses built for the nearly
17,000 Nubian families who were evacuated following the construction of
the High Dam in 1964 were about to collapse.
Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
constitution provides for the privacy of the home, correspondence,
telephone calls, and other means of communication; however, the
Emergency Law suspends the constitutional provisions regarding the right
to privacy, and the government used the Emergency Law to limit these
rights. On March 19, the government amended Article 179 of the
constitution to allow authorities in terrorism cases to disregard
constitutional protections of privacy of communications and personal
the constitution, police must obtain warrants before undertaking
searches and wiretaps, and courts dismissed cases in which police
obtained warrants without sufficient cause. Police officers who
conducted searches without proper warrants were subject to criminal
penalties, although penalties seldom were imposed. The Emergency Law
empowers the government to place wiretaps, intercept mail, and search
persons or places without warrants. Security agencies frequently placed
political activists, suspected subversives, journalists, foreigners, and
writers under surveillance, screened their correspondence (especially
international mail), searched them and their homes, and confiscated
10, security forces raided the house of writer and blogger Mohamed
Mossad Yaqout and seized his computer and a number of papers and books,
apparently due to his support for MB candidates in the Shura Council
elections, as well as his anti-government writings.
telecommunications law allows telephone wiretaps and Internet monitoring
only by court order. However, some human rights observers alleged that
the government routinely violated this law.
2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
Freedom of Speech and Press
constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press; however,
the government partially restricted these rights in practice,
particularly by using the Emergency Law. Nevertheless, citizens openly
expressed their views on a wide range of political and social issues,
including vigorous criticism of government officials and policies and
direct criticism of the president. During the year there was continued
public debate about political reform, human rights, corruption, press
freedom, and related issues.
the year a number of opposition political activists, journalists, and
NGOs continued to advocate political reform and openly criticized the
government. A number of government actions, including wide-scale
detentions of MB members, lawsuits against independent journalists, and
government restrictions on civil society organizations, led many
observers to charge that the government sought to curtail criticism and
31, the government released independent parliamentarian Talaat Sadat,
nephew of former president Anwar Sadat, who was convicted in October
2006 of defaming the military and sentenced to one year of prison with
hard labor and no possibility of appeal. In October 2006 police arrested
Sadat after he publicly accused military commanders, including then-vice
president Mubarak, of complicity in the 1981 assassination of his uncle,
former president Anwar Sadat.
penal code, Press Law, and Publications Law govern press issues. The
constitution restricts ownership of newspapers to public or private
legal entities, corporate bodies, and political parties. There were
numerous restrictions on legal entities seeking to establish newspapers,
including a limit of 10 percent ownership by any individual; however,
this limit appeared to have been enforced unevenly.
government owned stock in the three largest daily newspapers, which
generally followed the government line, and the president appointed
their top editors. The government also controlled the printing and
distribution of newspapers, including those of the opposition parties.
Opposition political parties published their own newspapers, which
frequently criticized the government. They also gave greater prominence
to human rights abuses than did state-run newspapers. Most opposition
newspapers were weeklies, with the exception of the dailies Al-Wafd,
Al-Ahrar, and Al-Ghad, first published in 2005. The daily
independent Al-Masry Al-Youm, which focuses on domestic politics,
continued to offer significant, independent coverage of many
in recent years opposition party newspapers have published articles
critical of the president and foreign heads of state without being
charged or harassed, the government continued to charge journalists with
libel under the portion of the press and publication law that forbids
malicious and unsubstantiated reporting. Under the law, an
editor-in-chief found to be negligent could be considered criminally
responsible for libel contained in any portion of the newspaper.
2006 amendments to the penal code provide for fines of $909 to $3,636
(LE 5,000 to LE 20,000) and prison sentences for journalists who
criticize foreign leaders or the president. The law specifically
stipulates up to five years in prison for any journalist convicted of
"vilifying" a foreign head of state and allows for detention of anyone
who "affronts the president of the republic" and journalists whose work
might "disturb public order."
the year government officials and private citizens continued to bring
several prominent libel cases against journalists.
January lawyers affiliated with the ruling NDP filed suit based on
Article 102 of the Criminal law alleging that on January 26, Al-Wafd
newspaper published false news that damaged the reputation of the
judiciary by printing an article about the justice minister's alleged
public criticism of a number of judges in January.
September the courts sentenced seven independent opposition editors on
charges ranging from misquoting the justice minister to defaming the
president and senior officials of the NDP. Private individuals
affiliated with the ruling party sponsored the lawsuits that led to the
editors' convictions. Under the law such lawsuits can result in criminal
convictions. In December charges were dropped against three of the
editors. At year's end the four other editors remained free on bail as
they prepared to appeal the decisions against them. Ibrahim Eissa,
editor of the daily independent Al-Dustur, was the target of at
least eight such private lawsuits at year's end.
September 11, a state security prosecutor charged Ibrahim Eissa with
publishing reports "likely to disturb public security and damage the
public interest," after Eissa published articles in August in
Al-Dustur about President Mubarak's rumored health problems. Eissa
faced up to three years in prison if convicted.
September 13, in response to a lawsuit initiated by several members of
the ruling party, a Cairo misdemeanor court sentenced Adel Hammouda,
editor of the weekly Al-Fagr; Wael al-Ibrashy, of the weekly
Sawt al-Umma; Abd al-Halim Qandil, former editor of the weekly
Al-Karama; and Ibrahim Eissa to one year in prison and a $3,500 (LE
20,000) fine for violating Article 188 of the penal code, which punishes
any person who makes statements "likely to disturb public order." The
court also set bail at $1,750 (LE 10,000). At year's end the editors
were free pending the appeal.
September 25, Cairo's Al Warrak criminal court sentenced Anwar
al-Hawari, the editor-in-chief of Al-Wafd newspaper, along with
deputy chief editor Mahmoud Ghalab and politics editor Amir Salem to two
years in prison, a $35 (LE 200) general fine and an additional $357 (LE
2,000) fine for publishing "untrue information which damaged the
reputation of the justice system and the justice ministry." The three
remained free on a $892 (LE 5,000) bail pending an appeal. In a similar
case, an NDP-affiliated lawyer, Samir Al-Sheshtawy, filed a lawsuit
against Mohamed al-Sayed Sa'eed, the editor-in-chief of the independent
daily Al-Badeel, for "defamation" after Al-Badeel ran an editorial on
September 5 describing al-Sheshtawi as "a Mubarak-loving lawyer." On
October 17, the first hearing in the case took place. The case was
pending at year's end.
According to media reports, security personnel arrested or detained at
least three journalists/reporters during the year.
April 15, at Cairo airport, security officers arrested Abd al-Monim
Mahmoud, a MB-affiliated television correspondent and blogger, as he
tried to board a plane for Sudan to cover a story. Mahmoud was a vocal
critic of the government's use of torture and asserted that he was
tortured by police during a 2003 detention. A prosecutor asserted that
the government was investigating Mahmoud on suspicion of membership in
and administration of a banned organization and funding an armed group.
On May 3, the government released Mahmoud without filing formal charges.
2, a Cairo criminal court sentenced Al-Jazeera journalist Huwaida Taha
Mitwalli to six months in prison for a documentary she produced about
torture in the country. The court convicted Mitwalli of "possessing and
giving false pictures about the internal situation in Egypt that could
undermine the dignity of the country." Mitwalli admitted to having
staged reenactments of allegedly real torture events for the Al-Jazeera
documentary. The court fined her $3,518 (LE 20,000). On January 8,
security officers at Cairo airport had prevented Mitwalli from leaving
the country and confiscated her videotapes and computer. On January 12,
she received a summons to appear at the Supreme State Security Court
where security officials held her overnight for questioning and then
released her on bail. She remained free at year's end pending the appeal
of her May 2 conviction.
August 21, authorities detained Al-Badeel newspaper correspondent
Mohamed Taher on charges related to his investigation of an alleged
torture incident. On August 27, authorities released him without charge.
Emergency Law authorizes censorship for public safety and national
security. The Ministry of Information is empowered only to ban
particular issues or editions in the interest of public order. The
Ministry of Interior has the authority to stop specific issues of
foreign newspapers from entering the country on the grounds of
protecting public order. Under the law, the public prosecutor may issue
a temporary ban on the publication of news related to national security,
the length of which is based on the length of time required for the
prosecution to prepare its case.
the cabinet can place a long-term ban on a foreign publication.
authorizes various ministries to ban or confiscate books, other
publications, and works of art upon obtaining a court order. The cabinet
may ban works that it deems offensive to public morals, detrimental to
religion, or likely to cause a breach of the peace. The government has
increasingly ceded confiscatory authority to Al-Azhar University and
acted on its recommendations.
the Cairo International Book Fair, January 23 through February 4,
authorities confiscated copies of a book by Egyptian feminist writer and
activist Nawal al-Saadawi. The book, God Resigns in the Summit
Meeting, portrayed God as a genderless spirit. In March al-Saadawi
departed the country after Al-Azhar officials accused her of apostasy
and a lack of respect for the principles of Islam.
February 4, the Deutsche Presse Agentur (German Press Agency) reported
that publisher Mahmoud Madbouli removed all copies of the book from
circulation and destroyed them. Madbouli stated that he withdrew the
book after he learned it offended readers' religious sensitivities.
Although Madbouli claimed his decision to remove and shred the book was
not political, he also told Deutsche Presse Agentur that police
witnessed the destruction of the books.
Ministry of Interior regularly confiscated publications by Islamists and
other critics of the state.
government controlled and censored the state-owned broadcast media. The
Ministry of Information owned and operated all ground-based domestic
television and radio stations. Two private satellite stations, Al-Mihwar
and Dream TV, operated without direct government control, although the
government has a financial stake in both. The government did not block
reception of foreign channels via satellite.
Approximately 10 million persons had access to the Internet, which the
government actively promoted through low cost access. The government
blocked access to some Web sites and monitored the Internet.
the year the government occasionally blocked Islamist and secular
opposition Web sites. While there is no specific legislation regarding
blocking of Web sites, the authorities have forced Internet service
providers to block sites on public safety or national security grounds.
Private use of internet encryption devices is prohibited by the
the year, police detained several active bloggers. The detentions
usually lasted for several days. In most cases the bloggers' arrests
appeared to be linked primarily to participation in street protests or
March 12, the Alexandria Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of
student blogger Abdel Karim Nabil Suleiman. On February 22, the
Alexandria Criminal Court convicted him of "denigrating" Islam and
insulting President Mubarak through his blog entries and sentenced him
to four years in prison (three for denigrating Islam and one for
insulting the president). In November 2006 Alexandria security forces
arrested Nabil, whose blog entries contained strongly-worded critiques
of Islam and Al-Azhar's Sunni Muslim orthodoxy. In 2005 authorities
detained Nabil for 18 days on account of his writings. Al-Azhar
University previously expelled Nabil and reported him to the authorities
for criticizing Islamic authority. At year's end Nabil remained in jail
awaiting his appeal.
29, authorities detained blogger Amr Gharbia for two hours in connection
with allegations that he defamed Judge Abdel Fattah Mourad. Authorities
released him after he paid a bail of $35 (LE 200). Gharbia stated that
anonymous contributors posted the comments to which Mourad objected.
20, the state's Lawsuits Commission dismissed a lawsuit by Judge Mourad,
chief judge of the Alexandria Appeals Court, to close 21 human
rights-related Web sites. Judge Mourad sought to block the Web sites and
blogs on the grounds that they "abused the state's dignity and
threatened its interests."
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
government did not explicitly restrict academic freedom in universities;
however, the government selected deans rather than permitting the
faculty to elect them. The government justified the measure as a means
to combat Islamist influence on campus.
September the government refused to grant the MB permission to hold its
annual Ramadan "iftar" dinner, an event normally attended by hundreds of
Ministry of Culture must approve all scripts and final productions of
plays and films. The ministry censored foreign films to be shown in
theaters but was more lenient regarding the same films in videocassette
or DVD format. Government censors ensured that foreign films made in the
country portrayed the country in a favorable light.
Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
constitution provides for freedom of assembly; however, the government
restricted the exercise of this right. Citizens must obtain approval
from the MOI before holding public meetings, rallies, and protest
marches. The MOI refused to grant permits for some political events, and
the government tightly controlled public demonstrations.
numerous incidents, authorities showed little tolerance for peaceful
demonstrations by opposition groups and activists protesting government
March 17, security forces detained 21 protestors who gathered outside of
the Tagammu Party headquarters. All were released within a day or two
March 25, security forces arrested 17 individuals protesting the
constitutional referendum; all were released soon after their detention.
22, security forces broke up a demonstration held by Bedouin and other
residents of Rafah, the town bordering Hamas-controlled Gaza, to protest
a reported government plan to clear all buildings within 150 meters of
the Gaza Strip border to foil smuggling. On July 30, another Bedouin
protest called upon the government to register Bedouin land ownership
and release Bedouin tribal members who were detained without charge. In
an effort to disperse the protestors, police fired tear-gas and rubber
bullets at the demonstrators resulting in the injury of 15 protesters.
generally responded to political demonstrations during the year with
high numbers of riot police deployed by the MOI to contain both the size
and effectiveness of the demonstrations. A pattern of arresting
demonstrators, detaining them for at least 15 days "pending further
investigation" continued, particularly in cases of unauthorized rallies.
In a number of unauthorized demonstrations, police detained suspected
organizers, some of whom alleged mistreatment while in detention.
selectively obstructed some meetings scheduled to be held on private
property and university campuses. For example, during student elections
held in October, police prevented students from meeting on campuses.
constitution provides for freedom of association; however, the
government significantly restricted the exercise of this right. The
minister of insurance and social affairs has the authority to dissolve
NGOs by decree. The law also requires NGOs to obtain permission from the
government before accepting foreign funds. According to officials,
donations from foreign governments with established development programs
in the country were excluded from this requirement.
March 29, the Chairman of the City of Naga Hamadi, General al-Sherbeery
Hasheesh, ordered the closure of the city's branch of the Center for
Trade Union and Workers Services (CTUWS). On April 10, the governor of
El-Gharbiya issued a similar decision to shut down the CTUWS branch in
Mahalla. In both instances, government officials alleged CTUWS was
responsible for inciting labor strikes.
9, in response to the closure of the CTUWS, 39 domestic NGOs launched a
campaign calling for freedom of association. On August 15, the EOHR
issued a statement condemning the Ministry of Social Solidarity's
refusal to register CTUWS. Unable to obtain NGO registration from the
government, it had registered in 1990 as a civil company under the
September 8, the government ordered the closure of the Association for
Human Rights Legal Aid (AHRLA), a leading local human rights NGO, for
accepting funds from foreign donors without government approval. AHRLA
played a role in exposing several cases of torture by security
personnel, specifically in a lawsuit against a state security officer
who allegedly tortured Mohamed Abdel Kader al-Sayed to death in 2003.
Several local and international NGOs, including the Cairo-based
Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the National
Council for Human Rights (NCHR), and the HRW, expressed concern over the
closing and urged the government to reverse the decision and allow AHRLA
to resume activities.
Freedom of Religion
constitution provides for freedom of belief and the practice of
religious rites; however, the government restricted the exercise of
these rights. According to the constitution, Islam is the official state
religion and Shari'a (Islamic law) the primary source of legislation.
Religious practices that conflict with the government's interpretation
of Shari'a are prohibited. Members of non-Muslim religious minorities
officially recognized by the government generally worshiped without
harassment and maintained links with coreligionists in other countries.
Members of religions that are not recognized by the government,
particularly the Baha'i Faith, experienced personal and collective
Approximately 90 percent of citizens are Sunni Muslims; less than 1
percent are Shi'a Muslims. Estimates of the percentage of Christians
ranged from 8 to 12 percent, or between 6 and 10 million, the majority
of whom belonged to the Coptic Orthodox Church. There are small numbers
of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, but the government does not
recognize either group. The non-Muslim, non-Coptic Orthodox communities
ranged in size from several thousand to hundreds of thousands. The
number of Baha'is is estimated at 2,000 persons.
bans Baha'i institutions and community activities and stripped Baha'is
of legal recognition. The government continued to deny civil documents,
including ID cards, birth certificates, and marriage licenses, to
members of the Baha'i community. The MOI requires identity card
applicants to self-identify as Jew, Christian, or Muslim. As a result,
Baha'is face great difficulties in conducting civil transactions,
including registering births, marriages and deaths, obtaining passports,
enrolling children in school, opening bank accounts, and obtaining
driver's licenses. During the year, Baha'is and members of other
religious groups were compelled either to misrepresent themselves as
Muslim, Christian or Jewish, or go without valid identity documents.
Many Baha'is chose the latter course.
September 30, all citizens had to obtain new computer identification
cards or risk detention; however, the government did not enforce this
requirement. In December 2006 the Supreme Administrative Court
overturned a lower court ruling, deciding that Baha'is may not list
their religion in the mandatory religion field on obligatory government
identity cards. In May 2006 the MOI successfully appealed an
administrative court ruling issued in April 2006, which supported the
right of Baha'i citizens to receive ID cards and birth certificates with
the Baha'i religion noted on the documents. The government issued
passports, which do not indicate the holder's religion, for Baha'i
February the EIPR filed a lawsuit on behalf of Hosni Hussein
Abdel-Massih, who was suspended from the Suez Canal University's Higher
Institute of Social Work due to his inability to obtain an identity card
because he is a Baha'i. Students must produce a military draft
postponement to complete their university education without
interruption; however, one cannot obtain a military draft number without
being issued a national ID number and a national ID card. The case was
pending at year's end.
September 10, the NCHR organized a workshop to discuss the issue of
religious identity on ID cards. General Aly Abdel Mawla, Head of General
Administration for Legal Affairs in the MOI, opposed the suggestion that
the government allow the religion field to be left blank, asserting that
the policy of requiring the indication of religious affiliation aims to
protect freedom of religion.
October Raouf Hindi Halim, a Baha'i convert, filed suit against the
government to issue birth certificates for his twin daughters with the
religion field left blank or to write (Baha'i) in the field. The case
was postponed several times since it was first brought before the
administrative court in 2004. Halim obtained birth certificates for the
children when they were born in 1993 which recognized their Baha'i
religious affiliation, but new certificates were mandatory, and the
children were unable to enroll in public schools without them. The case
remained pending at year's end.
the year security forces arrested those affiliated with the Koranist
movement, a small group of Muslims who rely on the Koran as the sole
source for Islam, excluding the prophetic traditions ("hadith") and
other sources of Islamic view. On May 29, SSIS agents arrested three
Koranist men. On May 31 and June 17, the SSIS arrested two more
Koranists. According to a lawyer with the EIPR, who attended some of the
police interrogations of the Koranists, the interrogation of the
detainees was focused on their religious views. One detainee told the
EIPR and the investigating prosecutor that an SSIS investigator
previously beat and threatened him with rape. On October 5, authorities
released the five men.
According to a 2005 presidential decree, churches are permitted to
proceed with rebuilding and repair simply by notifying the governorate
administration in writing. Permits for construction of new churches
remained subject to presidential decree. Despite these decrees, some
local security and government officials continued to prevent churches
from being renovated, often requiring an exhaustive list of documents to
be submitted multiple times between administrative and security
departments of governorates, in repeated attempts to preclude final
authorization. As a result, congregations experienced lengthy
delays--lasting for years in many cases—-waiting for new church building
permits to be issued. Authorities refused to issue decrees for
restoration, renovation, and expansion of churches, or failed to enforce
decrees that had already been approved. Local authorities closed
unlicensed buildings used as places of worship.
Government officials previously asserted that the government approves a
much larger number of projects for church construction and expansion
through informal arrangements between church authorities and local
security and administrative officials.
January 18, the NCHR released its third annual report. The report called
for the removal of obstacles that hinder political participation,
primarily by Christians and women. The NCHR reported that it had
received replies from government ministries and other bodies regarding
36 of the 57 formal complaints regarding religious freedom that it had
received between March and December 2006 and sent forward to relevant
authorities for action.
addition to complaints by Christian citizens to the NCHR, there were
also 14 complaints from Baha'is, one of which was signed by 51
complainants who sought the right to have their religion listed on
State-run television refused to comply with a 2005 judicial ruling
banning veiled anchorwomen on television programs. In March the court
told anchorwomen Hala al-Malki and Ghada al-Tawil that it could do
nothing to enforce its ruling. In April al-Malki and al-Tawil appealed
the 2005 ruling. On June 21, before any decision on the appeal was made,
Hala al-Malki anchored a program on national state television while
wearing a hijab. The status of the women's formal appeal was pending at
According to March media reports, officials at the Al-Ayat Government
Industrial Secondary School in Giza governorate attempted to require all
female students, including Christians, to wear hijabs. The Ministry of
Education quickly denied this allegation, noting that it bans wearing
the hijab in primary schools and allows it only in preparatory and
secondary schools upon written request from a girl's parent.
the constitution nor the civil and penal codes prohibits proselytizing,
but those accused of proselytizing have been harassed by police or
arrested on charges of violating Article 98(F) of the penal code, which
prohibits citizens from ridiculing or insulting "heavenly religions" or
inciting sectarian strife.
there are no legal restrictions on the conversion of non-Muslims to
Islam, the conversion of Muslims to any other religion is prohibited by
Shari'a. Converts to Christianity sometimes faced harassment. On April
28, authorities released Bahaa Al-Accad, a Christian convert, after he
had spent almost 2 years in prison without being formally charged with
April 24, the Court of Administrative Justice ruled that the MOI was not
obligated to recognize reconversion back to Christianity by
Christian-born converts to Islam. The court ruled that such recognition
would violate the prohibition against apostasy under Islamic Shari'a and
constitute a "manipulation of Islam and Muslims." This ruling was
inconsistent with other court rulings in the last three years ordering
the MOI to issue amended identification cards to 32 citizens who sought
to reconvert to Christianity.
August 8, police detained Adel Fawzi Faltas Hanna, a retired doctor and
president of the Middle East Christian Association's (MECA) Egyptian
branch, and Peter Ezzat Hanna, a photographer for MECA and the Copts
United Web site. The authorities investigated the two men's activities,
based on accusations that they had insulted Islam. The police also
raided the Cairo homes of Hanna and Ezzat and confiscated several copies
of a MECA publication ("the Persecuted"), which MECA had printed abroad
and then distributed in the country. On November 4, authorities released
Faltas and Ezzat following three months in detention. On November 5,
authorities arrested three other MECA affiliates/activists--Wagih Yaob,
Victor George, and Mamdouh Azmeh--whom authorities also investigated for
denigrating Islam. On December 26, authorities released the three men
absence of a legal means to register their change in religious status,
some converts have resorted to soliciting illicit identity papers, often
by submitting fraudulent supporting documents or bribing the government
clerks who process the documents. In such cases, authorities
periodically charged converts with violating laws prohibiting the
falsification of documents.
August Mohamed Ahmed Hegazi and his wife, Zeinab, publicly announced
that they had converted to Christianity and wished to be legally
recognized as such to ensure they could raise their children as
Christians. However, the Civil Registrar refused to issue Hegazi a new
National ID card stating his new religion. On August 2, Hegazi sued the
minister of interior. The case remained pending at year's end.
concerning marriage, divorce, alimony, child custody, and burial are
based on an individual's religion. In the practice of family law, the
government recognizes only the three "heavenly religions:" Islam,
Christianity, and Judaism. Muslim families are subject to Shari'a,
Christian families to Canon law, and Jewish families to Jewish law. In
cases of family law disputes involving a marriage between a Christian
woman and a Muslim man, the courts apply Shari'a.
government does not recognize the marriages of citizens adhering to
faiths other than Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Coptic males are
prevented from marrying Muslim women by both civil and religious laws. A
civil marriage abroad is an option if a Christian male and a Muslim
female citizen decide to marry; however, their marriage would not be
legally recognized in the country. A female Muslim citizen in such a
situation could be arrested and charged with apostasy, and any children
from such a marriage could be taken and assigned to the physical custody
of a male Muslim guardian, as determined by the government's
interpretation of Shari'a. The Coptic Orthodox Church permits divorce
only in specific circumstances, such as adultery or conversion of one
spouse to another religion.
September 3, the Alexandria Administrative Court ruled that the father
of Mario Medhat Ramses, 11, and Andrew Medhat Ramses, 13, could convert
his sons to Islam, despite their Christian mother's objections. The
estranged father had previously converted from Christianity to Islam.
The children's mother appealed to the Cairo Supreme Administrative
Court, and the case remained pending at year's end.
were no reports of forced religious conversion carried out by the
government; however, there continued to be unsubstantiated reports of
forced conversions of Coptic women and girls to Islam by Muslim men.
Reports of such cases were disputed and often included allegations and
denials of organized seduction, kidnapping and rape. Observers,
including human rights groups, found it extremely difficult to determine
whether compulsion was used, as most cases involved a Coptic female who
converted to Islam when she married a Muslim man. Reports of such cases
almost never appear in the local media.
February 9, Muslim citizens set fire to Christian owned shops in the
village of Armant, Qena governorate, after reports surfaced of a love
affair between a Muslim woman and a Coptic Christian man. Security
forces deployed in the town closed shops under a security decree and
detained eight Muslims and one Copt. Some were released on February 15,
and the rest were released shortly thereafter. Member of Parliament (MP)
Mohamed al-Nubi and village leaders initiated a national conference on
inter-religious dialogue to address the sectarian divide and reportedly
brought together some 2,000 Muslims and Christians from across the
September 21, rumors of a love affair between a Muslim woman and a
Coptic Christian man again sparked sectarian clashes in Alexandria.
Reportedly dozens of Muslims and Christians fought and hurled bricks at
each following Friday evening prayers. Nine people were injured and
about nine cars were destroyed in the clashes before security forces
were deployed to the area and detained 25 people. The prosecution office
ordered their detention for four days pending investigations. All were
released without charges.
there is no legal requirement for a Christian girl or woman to convert
to Islam to marry a Muslim man, conversion to Islam has been used to
circumvent the legal prohibition on marriage under the age of 16 or
marriage between the ages of 16 and 21 without the approval and presence
of the girl's male guardian (usually her father). The law only
recognizes the willing conversion to Islam of any person over age 16.
However, there are credible reports of local government authorities
failing to uphold the law. Local authorities sometimes allow custody of
a minor Christian female who "converts" to Islam to be transferred to a
Muslim custodian, who is likely to grant approval for an underage
marriage. Some Coptic activists maintain that government officials do
not respond effectively to instances of alleged kidnapping. In cases of
marriage between an underage Christian girl and a Muslim man, there have
been credible reports that government authorities have failed to
sufficiently cooperate with Christian families seeking to regain custody
of their daughters.
the year, according to Watani newspaper editor and publisher
Youssef Sidhom and Christian lawyer Naguib Gabriel, the MOI ceased to
require "advice and guidance sessions" in cases of Christian-born
converts to Islam without any prior notice or discussion. According to
Sidhom, the advice and guidance sessions repeatedly proved to be
instrumental in resolving disputed conversion cases, returning many
Christian girls to their original faith and families. Gabriel filed a
lawsuit before the administrative court to restore these sessions, but
the court had not issued any judgment by year's end.
constitution requires elementary and secondary public schools to offer
religious instruction. Public and private schools provided religious
instruction according to the faith of the student.
government occasionally prosecuted members of religious groups whose
practices deviated from mainstream Islamic beliefs and whose activities
were believed to jeopardize communal harmony.
2006 public prosecutor Maher Abdul Wahid ordered two Azharites, Abdul
Sabur al-Kashef and Mohammed Radwan, to be tried by a low-level criminal
court on charges of blaspheming Islam. Kashef was prosecuted for
claiming to have seen God while Radwan was prosecuted for denying the
existence of heaven and hell. Al-Kashef was sentenced to 11 years'
imprisonment while Radwan received three years. In mid-January
El-Gamaleya Misdemeanor Court of Appeals reduced Kashef's sentence to
six years' imprisonment and upheld the earlier ruling of three years for
Jehovah's Witnesses remained without legal status, the small community
in the country reported that hostile treatment from security services
diminished significantly. In 2006 a delegation of Jehovah's Witnesses
from Europe and the United States made several visits to meet with
government officials in order to explore the prospects for the formal
establishment of the faith in the country and to advocate for the human
rights and religious freedom of Jehovah's Witnesses in the country.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Societal religious discrimination and sectarian tension continued during
the year. Tradition and some aspects of the law discriminated against
religious minorities, including Christians and particularly Baha'is.
constitution provides for equal public rights and duties without
discrimination based on religion or creed, and in general the government
upheld these protections; however, government discrimination against
March 27, voters approved 34 constitutional amendments with unclear
implications for religious freedom. The amended Article 1 of the
constitution states that the country's political system is based on the
principle of citizenship. Government supporters argued that these
changes would separate religion from politics. However, some critics
argued that the amendments are incompatible with Article 2, which
continues to state that Shari'a is the basis for legislation.
government continued to discriminate against Christians in public sector
employment, in staff appointments to public universities, by payment of
Muslim imams through public funds (Christian clergy are paid by private
church funds), and by refusal to admit Christians to Al-Azhar University
(a publicly-funded institution). In general, public university training
programs for Arabic language teachers refuse to admit non-Muslims
because the curriculum involves the study of the Koran. There have been
no reports of Christian graduates since 2001.
have normally not prosecuted officials suspected of causing personal
injuries or damages due to sectarian-based violence. However, the
government took positive steps in response to an April 2006 sectarian
attack in Alexandria that led to mob violence resulting in personal
injury to Copts and the burning and looting of Christian-owned shops. A
parliamentary inquiry investigated the incidents, and on January 22, a
police military tribunal in Cairo convicted five of the 10 accused
police officers on charges of dereliction of duty for failing to appear
at their respective duty stations. The court had not handed down final
rulings against the remaining five officers by year's end.
11, a group of Muslim citizens attacked Christians in the village of
Bamha. In the ensuing violence, Muslims reportedly set fire to or looted
27 Christian shops and homes and injured 11 Christians. The police
responded quickly to contain the incident and arrested approximately 60
persons whom they released soon after.
15, in Fayoum, a group of young Muslims attacked the wall that
surrounded the land of an Evangelical Church and destroyed and stole the
brick and cement supplies that were stored on site. On July 18, a
reconciliation meeting took place at which Reverend Ghattas met with
Fayoum Governor Magdi Qubeissi, who promised to have the culprits
punished, the wall re-built, and the church indemnified for damages.
Security officials promised to compensate the church, but the church had
not received any compensation by year's end.
country's Jewish community numbered approximately 100; most were senior
citizens. Anti-Semitic sentiments appeared in both the progovernment and
opposition press. Anti-Semitism in the media was common but less
prevalent than in recent years, but anti-Semitic editorial cartoons and
articles depicting demonic images of Jews and Israeli leaders,
stereotypical images of Jews along with Jewish symbols, and comparisons
of Israeli leaders to Hitler and the Nazis were published throughout the
year. These expressions occurred primarily in the government-sponsored
daily newspaper, Al-Gumhuriyya, Akhbar Al-Yawm, and
Al-Ahram, and occurred without government response.
government advised journalists and cartoonists to avoid anti-Semitism.
Government officials insisted that anti-Semitic statements in the media
were a reaction to Israeli government actions against Palestinians and
did not constitute anti-Semitism.
22, Watani newspaper, a newspaper published by the Coptic Church,
reported on a book titled "The Evidence of the Greatness of Mohamed's
Message and Prophesies of it in the books of the People of the Book,"
written by Mohamed al-Sadat and published by the state-owned publishing
house, the General Egyptian Book Organization (GEBO). The book stated
fundamental tenants of Islam but also attacked Christianity and Judaism
and derided the concept of the Trinity. Nasser al-Ansari, the chairman
of the board of GEBO, later halted its circulation.
more detailed discussion, see the
2007 International Religious Freedom Report.
Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of
Refugees, and Stateless Persons
provides for these rights, and the government generally respected them
in practice; however, there were some notable exceptions. Citizens and
foreigners were free to travel within the country, except in certain
areas designated as military zones. Males who have not completed
compulsory military service may not travel abroad or emigrate, although
this restriction may be deferred or bypassed under special
circumstances. Unmarried women under the age of 21 must have permission
from their fathers to obtain passports and travel. Married women no
longer legally require the same permission from their husbands; however,
in practice police reportedly still required such permission in most
cases. Citizens who left the country had the right to return.
April 27, the government prevented former MB parliamentarian Gamal
Heshmat from traveling to Bahrain to participate in the National Arab
Conference. The authorities provided no explanation for Heshmat's travel
similar case, on August 17, the local press reported that the government
prevented MB member Essam al-Erian from traveling to Turkey. An official
in the MOI's media office refused to comment on the incident when
questioned by Reuters. On two previous occasions the government
prevented Erian from traveling abroad.
constitution prohibits forced exile, and the government did not use it
during the year.
Protection of Refugees
constitution includes provisions for the granting of refugee status or
asylum to persons who meet the definition in the 1951 UN Convention
relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol. Apart from a
1954 agreement with the UN High Commissioner for Regugees (UNHCR) and
two "technical decrees" from the MOI relating to residence and travel,
the country has no national legislative framework on asylum. The
government generally did not issue work permits to refugees. The
government admitted refugees on the understanding that their presence in
the country was temporary.
the country lacked national legislation or a legal framework governing
the granting of asylum, the UNHCR assumed full responsibility for the
determination of refugee status on behalf of the government; however,
the 2004 peace accord in the Sudan led the UNHCR to halt new refugee
status determinations in 2005. This led to protests by some Sudanese who
sought refugee status and resettlement. The UNHCR provided recognized
refugees with a refugee identification card that was considered a
residence permit and bore the stamp of the national authorities.
Refugees generally may not obtain citizenship.
According to the UNHCR, during the year there were approximately 43,610
recognized refugees and asylum seekers residing in the country.
Approximately 24,551 of these individuals were Sudanese nationals. In
addition, between 40,000 and 70,000 Palestinian refugees were reported
to be in the country, although fewer than 200 were registered with the
UNHCR. The number of Iraqi asylum seekers approaching the UNHCR
increased, with more than 8,500 registered during the year. Conflicting
press reports, some citing the UNHCR, gave widely varying estimates of
the number of Iraqis seeking protection in the country at year's end,
ranging from 20,000 to 150,000. Press reports also noted that some
schools expelled Iraqi children. Iraqis protested MOI delays in the
issuance of residence permits, and the authorities in Sixth of October
City rejected a request by Iraqi asylum seekers to open a Shi'a mosque.
the UNHCR halted refugee determinations for South Sudanese after the
Sudanese peace accords and ceased consideration of applications by South
Sudanese for resettlement abroad. Sudanese refugees, as well as those
Sudanese who unsuccessfully sought refugee status, were part of a much
larger community of Sudanese residents, many of whom were in the country
illegally. Estimates of the total number of resident Sudanese ranged
from two to four million. Many Sudanese legally enter with short-term
visas and then decide to remain. According to a study produced by the
American University in Cairo's Center for Forced Migration and Refugee
Studies in July 2006, migrants from Sudan, regardless of their official
status, faced unemployment, poor housing, limited access to health and
education, and racial discrimination.
least one instance, there were reports that the government did not
provide protection against refoulement, the return of persons to a
country where there is reason to believe they feared persecution. On
August 18, the government accepted the deportation of 48 Africans from
Israel, 23 of whom the government stated were registered with the UNHCR
as refugees or asylum seekers. Government forces arrested the deportees
and refused the UNHCR access to this population. Press reports indicated
that on October 28, the government forcibly returned five of the group
to Sudan, where they reportedly may face persecution for having been in
Israel. The government denied that it deported the five and stated that
all 48 were released from custody in December.
year witnessed a growing trend of Sudanese and other African asylum
seekers who attempted to migrate illegally to Israel. Some of these
migrants were registered with the UNHCR as refugees or asylum-seekers.
22, security personnel shot and killed a woman from Darfur as she
attempted to illegally cross into Israel with a group of 26 other
similar incident occurred on July 23, when police shot and wounded a
Sudanese man as he attempted to illegally cross into Israel from the
Sinai Peninsula. The police ordered him to stop but he refused and the
police opened fire, injuring the man.
According to media reports, on October 15, police shot and wounded two
Turkish teenagers attempting to cross into Israel to work, according to
Al-Dustour. On October 18, Reuters reported that police shot and
critically wounded a Turkish man as he tried to cross a barbed wire
fence into Israel with six other individuals believed to be his family.
year's end the government had not investigated the case of the 27
Sudanese asylum seekers who died while police sought to clear a
squatters' settlement of several thousand Sudanese in a Cairo park
outside UN offices in December 2005. On May 2, after the Associated
Press reported the findings of a UN human rights panel that called on
the government to reinvestigate the deaths of the 27 Sudanese, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the request, stating the UN
committee did not have jurisdiction to ask for reinvestigations.
3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their
constitution provides that citizens shall elect the president every six
years. The constitution also provides that two-thirds of the 264-member
Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, are elected and one-third
are appointed by the president. Shura council terms are for six years,
with half of the Shura's elected seats being contested every three
years. However, during the year there were limitations on citizens'
right to change their government peacefully due to consistent election
irregularities, including technical problems and fraud. The NDP
continued to dominate the 454-seat People's Assembly, as a result of the
2005 parliamentary elections, which were marred by fraud, police
interference, and violence. It also dominated local governments, the
mass media, labor, and the large public sector, and controlled the
licensing of new political parties, newspapers, and private
Elections and Political Participation
March 26, the country held a popular referendum on a set of 34
amendments aimed at reforming elements of the constitution. The
referendum was moved up from its originally scheduled date in April. The
amendments included changes to articles regarding individual legal
protection, a ban (under Article 5) on the establishment of any
political party with a religious basis, and revisions to Article 88
replacing supervision of elections by the judiciary with a new Supreme
International and local civil society advocates and human rights groups
criticized the abbreviated timetable for the referendum as well as the
substance of the amendments as falling short of meaningful reform. The
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace characterized revisions to
Article 88 as a step backwards, noting that judicial oversight had
previously resulted in a more transparent electoral process. AI
described the amendments as the "greatest erosion of human rights in 26
years" and called on parliament to reject the proposed constitutional
amendments, stating they would continue a long-standing system of abuse
under the Emergency Law. The EIPR criticized the proposed amendment to
Article 179, arguing that it would "do away with whatever legal
protection is left for personal rights and freedoms" as well as diminish
guarantees of due process.
NCHR fielded monitors for the referendum. They reported that they
witnessed inaccurate electoral lists, group voting, lack of judicial
supervision in some polling stations, prevention of NGOs representatives
from practicing their work, closure of ballot boxes before official
time, lack of prescribed ink in some polling stations, and a lack of
information for voters outside the polling stations.
the government reported voter turnout at 27.1 percent, press reports and
independent monitors estimated the figure to be between 2 and 5 percent.
The government reported that 75.9 percent of voters voted in favor and
24.1 percent against the package of amendments; 9.7 million voted out of
35.8 million registered; and 9.4 million valid votes and 252,695 invalid
votes were counted. Civil society monitors and other observers who
conducted election monitoring asserted that turnout was less than five
percent of eligible voters.
11, the government organized Shura Council elections for 88 open seats.
The ruling NDP won 84 of the 88 contested seats. Three NDP members ran
as independents (having failed to secure the nomination of their party)
and won three additional seats, while the opposition leftist Tagammu
Party won one seat. Independent candidates affiliated with the banned MB
failed to win any of the seats. Other significant opposition parties
such as the Wafd and Nasserists, boycotted the Shura elections.
Immediately after the announcement of the results of the Shura
elections, President Mubarak exercised his presidential prerogative to
appoint an additional 44 members including nine women and three Copts.
The government reported that turnout for the Shura elections was 31
percent, but independent monitors reported turnout of 5 percent. In the
run-up to the election, government security forces arrested and detained
hundreds of MB members and campaign workers.
24, the NCHR issued a report pointing to discrepancies in turnout as
announced by the government and as estimated by NGO monitors. The NCHR
noted that it had received complaints on a wide range of violations
during the elections, including violations in campaigning, security
service threats to voters, arrests of political activists, denial of
access to polling stations, bribery, unauthorized invalidations of
electoral applications, and late openings of some polling stations. In
an effort to promote the transparency of the Shura Council elections,
the NCHR worked with the government to provide a total of 5,827
monitoring licenses for 18 NGOs who conducted monitoring of the
aftermath of the Shura elections, the NCHR recommended that the
government work to improve voter participation levels; to better
integrate the disabled in monitoring or participation; to permit
monitoring by regional or international organizations; to evaluate the
monitoring process to determine flaws; and to increase political
parties' involvement in monitoring. The NCHR also recommended doubling
the number of judges in the Supreme Election Commission in order to
provide better supervision of peripheral stations and called for the
government to allow voters to use their national ID for voting instead
of a separate voting card to simplify the voting process.
Independent MPs linked to the MB continued to participate actively in
September 2005 voters elected President Hosni Mubarak to a fifth
six-year term, defeating nine other candidates representing political
opposition parties, in the first competitive presidential election. The
government announced that Mubarak received 88 percent of the vote and
that Ayman Nour of the Al-Ghad party had placed second with 7 percent.
Domestic election monitors said that voter turnout was lower than the 23
percent turnout reported by the government.
reports, voters, opposition groups, and civil society monitors reported
technical flaws and fraud during the presidential election. NDP
representatives reportedly controlled many polling stations and
pressured voters to support Mubarak; NDP parliamentarians reportedly
paid small bribes and used other illegal inducements to win votes for
Mubarak; voter lists were outdated; nonresident or unregistered voters
were allowed to vote for Mubarak; the NDP had exclusive control over
voter lists in some areas and refused to make the lists available to all
competing parties; some polling places were located in police stations;
the "indelible" ink used to mark voters' fingers was applied
inconsistently and easily rubbed off; there was confusion over voter
registration, including who was registered and where persons were
supposed to vote; and voters were not allowed to register to vote after
January 2005. The government did not invite international election
observers to observe the election, and the operations of the
Presidential Election Commission, a nine-member quasi-judicial body
tasked with approving candidates, were marred by a lack of transparency.
According to the constitution, licensed and operating political parties
can nominate candidates for the presidency, provided they have been in
legal status as recognized parties for five continuous years and secured
at least 5 percent of the elected seats in each of the PA and the Shura
Council in the most recent parliamentary elections. Fourteen of the
country's 18 licensed opposition political parties met the licensing and
operating requirements for the 2005 race but only due to a one-time
exemption clause for 2005, which eliminated this requirement.
constitution provides that candidates unaffiliated with political
parties may run for president if they secure endorsements from at least
250 elected officials, to include at least 65 of the 444 elected members
of the PA, at least 25 of the 176 elected members of the Shura Council,
and at least 10 elected members of local councils in each of at least 14
of 26 governorates. No independent candidates competed in the 2005
most recent elections for the 444 open seats of the PA took place in
November-December 2005. The first round in the greater Cairo area
occurred peacefully, but there were multiple confirmed reports of vote
buying and charges of vote rigging. Presidential runner-up Ayman Nour
lost his parliamentary seat in a race against a recently-retired state
security officer. Nour's camp alleged government fraud. The second round
of the parliamentary elections, which included Alexandria, witnessed
violence by government supporters against opposition voters, resulting
in at least three deaths and sporadic police cordons intended to limit
access to polling stations. The third round of the parliamentary
elections was marred by widespread police cordons at polling stations
aimed at limiting opposition voters, as well as multiple clashes between
police and opposition voters which left at least eight persons dead. The
NDP retained its overriding majority in the new parliament but was
joined by 88 independent deputies allied with the MB and a handful of
other opposition deputies.
series of October 2006 rulings, the Court of Cassation ruled that
approximately 100 parliamentary contests spanning at least five
constituencies--Nasr City and Khalifa in Cairo, Qellin in Kafr
El-Sheikh, and Nabarawa and Dekerness in Daqahliyya--should be
invalidated due to evidence of vote rigging during the 2005
parliamentary elections. However, the constitution provides parliament
the right to decide which judicial rulings against it must be enforced.
Historically, the NDP-controlled parliament has used this provision to
ratify only those court judgments that go against select opposition and
independent candidates. The NCHR recommended an amendment to make court
rulings against parliament binding and non-reviewable. By year's end the
parliament had not taken any action in response to the Court of
10, President Mubarak issued a presidential decree establishing a High
Elections Commission to oversee all elections matters. The commission
consisted of 11 members and was headed by Counselor Adel Zaki Andraws,
president of the Cairo Court of Appeals.
25, the Shura Council's Committee for Political Parties Affairs approved
the establishment of the Democratic Front party headed by Dr. Yehia
el-Gamal, a former cabinet minister. At year's end, at least 12 aspirant
political parties awaited decisions on their legal status, including the
Karama ("Dignity," Arab nationalist) and Wasat ("Center," moderate
debated government proposals, and members exercised their authority to
call cabinet ministers to explain policy. The executive initiated almost
all legislation. The PA exercised limited influence in the areas of
security and foreign policy and retained little oversight of the MOI's
use of Emergency Law powers. Ministerial decrees were used to carry out
many executive branch initiatives and policies without legislative
oversight. Individual voting records were not published, and citizens
had no independent method of checking a member's voting record.
Political Parties Law prohibits political parties based on religion, and
the MB remained an illegal organization; however, MB members openly and
publicly expressed their views. They remained subject to government
pressure. Independent MPs linked to the MB continued to participate
actively in parliament. A total of 88 candidates affiliated with the MB
were elected to the PA in 2005 as independents.
were six women elected to the 454-seat PA, as well as five women
appointed. Two women served among the 32 ministers in the cabinet.
were six Christians (five appointed, one elected) in the 454-seat PA;
six Christians (all appointed) in the 264-seat Shura Council; and two
Christians in the 32-member cabinet. Christians, who represent between 8
and 12 percent of the population, held less than 2 percent of the seats
in the PA and Shura Council. In 2006, for the first time in more than 30
years, the government appointed a Copt as one of the country's 26
governors, in Qena. There were no Christians in the upper ranks of the
security services and armed forces.
Government Corruption and Transparency
provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government
implemented these laws effectively in some cases. The Worldwide
Governance Indicators of the World Bank reflect that corruption was a
a court convicted NDP parliamentarian Emad al-Gelda of official
corruption and sentenced him to three years in prison.
4, airport officials stopped parliamentarian Hosam Abdul-Mohsen Makawy
on arrival from Dubai carrying 1,000 cell phones and 800 memory cards.
Makawy agreed to pay a fine and taxes to avoid prosecution.
local press routinely reported on confirmed cases of low-level
corruption, including tampering with official documents, embezzlement,
and acceptances of bribes by officials in various government
departments. Assistant Minister of Justice Ahmed al-Shalaqany ordered
the provisional detention of Ayman Abdel Moneim, Director of the
Ministry of Culture's Office for Monuments after Moneim was accused of
receiving bribes. On November 25, the public prosecutor transferred
Moneim and eight other suspects to Criminal Court with charges of
receiving bribes and manipulating the ministry's tenders, which
accounted for $170,000 (LE 930,000).
February 2006 sinking of the Al-Salaam Bocaccio 98 ferry in the Red Sea
killed more than 1,000 people, many of them Egyptian migrant workers
returning from jobs in the Gulf. A parliamentary inquiry in April 2006
ruled that the ship was overloaded, possessed inadequate safety
equipment, and had not been properly maintained. The relationship of
ferry owner Mamdouh Ismail, a Shura Council member, with presidential
chief of staff Zakaria Azmi, sparked public debate about corruption.
Although he was stripped of his parliamentary immunity shortly after the
accident, Ismail fled the country. His role as a board member of the Red
Sea Ports Authority led to media claims that he had used his regulatory
role to boost his business interests. At the time of the Salaam sinking,
his ferry company possessed a virtual monopoly on Red Sea ferry traffic.
A fact finding committee under the chairmanship of Hamdi Al Tahan, head
of the transportation and communications parliamentarian committee,
indicted Ismail as well as the Ministry of Transportation, the Marine
Safety and Search and Rescue Authority, and government officials from
different government bodies who were tasked with responding to the
crisis. The case remained pending at year's end.
prosecutors indicted two key figures in the country's media sector on
corruption charges. Abdel Rahman Hafez, director of the state-owned
Media Production City, and Ehab Talaat, a private sector advertising
executive, were indicted by the public prosecutor after a case against
them was brought by the Administrative Control Authority (a government
anticorruption body). According to the indictment, Hafez conspired with
Talaat to grant the latter's ad agency advertising time on the
state-owned Nile Satellite Channel for a tenth of its actual value.
are no legal provisions for public access to government information.
There were no financial disclosure laws for public officials.
4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental
Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Government restrictions on NGO activities, including limits on
organizations' ability to accept foreign funding, continued to limit
reporting on human rights abuses. Government officials were selectively
cooperative and responsive to some NGOs' views.
governing the regulation and operation of all NGOs grants the minister
of social solidarity the authority to dissolve an NGO by decree, rather
than requiring a court order. There were no reports that the minister
used this measure during the year.
leading independent human rights NGOs included the Egyptian Organization
for Human Rights (EOHR), the Human Rights Association for the Assistance
of Prisoners (HRAAP), the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid
(AHRLA), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Ibn Khaldun Center (IKC),
the Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal
Profession (AIJL), the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, and
the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights (ECWR). The Arab Organization for
Human Rights generally took a softer line towards the government.
Informal coalitions of Internet activists and bloggers played an
increasingly significant role during the year in publicizing information
about human rights abuses. The government did not demonstrate a
consistent approach towards cooperating with human rights NGOs and
detained and abused some Internet bloggers.
NCHR continued to monitor government abuses of human rights by formally
submitting citizen complaints to the government and issuing reports
critical of the government. In January the NCHR began its second
three-year term. In 2006 two members of the original 27-member board
resigned. One member, human rights activist Bahey El-Din Hassan,
publicly said that he chose to resign to protest what he alleged was a
lack of progress by the NCHR in addressing human rights challenges.
Hassan questioned the effectiveness of the NCHR since the organization
possessed no legal authority to compel the government to address the
concerns it raised.
January 18, the NCHR issued its third annual report, covering March 1 to
December 31, 2006. The NCHR reported that it received a total of 5,826
complaints, marking a 25 percent increase from the previous period.
Economic and social rights complaints comprised 38.5 percent of the
total, while civil and political rights complaints accounted for 30.2
percent of total complaints submitted to the council. The report called
on the government to take more effective action in response to human
rights violations and complaints, combat corruption, and amend the NGO
law to eliminate restrictions on civil associations.
February the NCHR announced the establishment of a new Complaints Office
with two regional offices, one in Upper Egypt and the other in northern
Egypt, to facilitate the processing of citizen complaints. The offices
were not up and running by year's end.
leading human rights groups and civil society organizations continued to
press legal challenges against government decisions prohibiting them
from registering under the NGO law. Although these organizations were
generally allowed to conduct operations, albeit on a limited basis, they
did so in technical violation of the NGO law with the omnipresent
specter of government interference and/or closure looming over them.
EOHR, HRAAP, and other groups obtained limited cooperation of government
officials in visiting some prisons in their capacity as legal counsel,
but not as human rights observers.
number of civil society organizations received direct funding from
foreign governmental and nongovernmental donors to support their work in
a variety of areas, including human rights advocacy and election
monitoring. During the year the government permitted various human
rights organizations, including the CIHRS, HRAAP, EOHR, IKC, and AIJL,
to hold and participate in international conferences.
government generally allows international human rights NGOs to establish
informal operations. Organizations such as the HRW made periodic visits
as part of their regional research program and were able to work with
domestic human rights groups. In 2005 the National Democratic Institute,
International Republican Institute, and IFES, which provide technical
assistance in support of expanded political and civil rights,
established informal operations in the country. In June 2006, however,
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ordered all three groups to "freeze"
their operations pending formal approval of their registrations. By
year's end the three organizations remained unregistered and unable to
pursue full operations.
August, an official delegation from the African Commission on Human and
People's Rights visited the country for the first time since the
establishment of the commission in 1981. The delegation met with
officials from various ministries including the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, MOI, and Ministry of Justice. The delegation also met with the
public prosecutor, the NCHR, National Council for Childhood and
Motherhood, and a number of civil society organizations. The delegation
also visited Tora prison.
September 13, press reports noted that the government refused the
application by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
to establish its regional office in Cairo.
government did not respond to standing requests from at least five UN
special rapporteurs, including those on torture, the situation of human
rights defenders, freedom of religion, independence of judges and
lawyers, human rights and counterterrorism, to visit.
has a "Human Rights Committee," which human rights activists did not
judge effective. The committee recommended that the government decrease
the numbers of prisoners per cell and provide "appropriate medication."
The committee also recommended that the government not reply to an AI
report on human rights during the year.
5 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
constitution provides for equality of the sexes and equal treatment of
non-Muslims; however, aspects of the law and many traditional practices
discriminated against women and religious minorities.
prohibits rape, and punishment under the penal code ranges from 15 to 25
years; however, spousal rape is not illegal. Although reliable
statistics regarding rape were not available, activists believed that it
was not uncommon, despite strong social disapproval. A rapist, if also
convicted of abducting his victim, can be subject to execution. There
was no data available on the rate of prosecution of rape cases.
According to a study presented in May by the National Council for
Criminal and Social Studies, there are 20,000 cases of rape annually,
and 60 percent of females are subjected to harassment. According to the
ECWR, of the 2,500 woman who reported cases of sexual harassment to
ECWR, only 12 percent went to the police with their complaint.
2005, after hearing confessions from two defendants that they had raped
and beaten to death Hoda al-Zaher, Judge Abdo Attia handed down
sentences of only three years for one defendant and three months for
another. In November 2006 the public prosecutor appealed the court's
decision. At year's end the case was under appeal.
Although the law does not prohibit spousal abuse, provisions of law
relating to assault in general may be applied. Domestic violence
continued to be a problem, but reliable national level statistics were
unavailable. According to the "Listening and Guidance Program" of the
Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, beatings,
sexual harassment and spousal rape remained significant problems in
society. According to a 2003 survey by the Center for Egyptian Women's
Legal Affairs, an estimated 67 percent of women in urban areas and 30
percent in rural areas had been involved in some form of domestic
violence at least once between 2002 and 2003. Among victims, fewer than
half sought help. The 2005 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey indicated
that 47.4 percent of women above age 14 had experienced domestic
violence. Abuse within the family rarely was discussed publicly. Spousal
abuse is grounds for a divorce. The law requires the victim of spousal
abuse to produce multiple eyewitnesses, a difficult condition to meet.
Several NGOs offered counseling, legal aid, and other services to women
who were victims of domestic violence.
does not specifically address "honor" crimes of violent assaults by a
male against a female, usually a family member, because of perceived
lack of chastity. In practice, the courts sentenced perpetrators of such
crimes to lesser punishments than those convicted in other cases of
murder. There were no reliable statistics regarding the extent of
genital mutilation (FGM) remained a serious, widespread problem, despite
government and NGO attempts to combat it. Tradition and family pressure
continued to play a leading role in the persistence of FGM. While it is
difficult to obtain reliable statistics on the practice, UNICEF reported
a reduction in "intention" levels among the families of at-risk girls.
June, 12-year-old Badour Shaker died following an FGM operation. A
forensic investigation reported that the girl died due to an anesthesia
overdose during the procedure. Authorities arrested the doctor who
performed the operation.
23, Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Egypt, issued a formal fatwa banning FGM.
On June 28, Minister of Health Al-Gabaly issued a decree banning FGM.
While the decree does not include criminal penalties, it can be enforced
through regulatory action such as license suspension and referral to
professional syndicate disciplinary boards. On July 3, Dar al-Iftaa
issued a formal statement declaring FGM to be "religiously forbidden."
government supported efforts to educate the public about FGM. During the
year the government opened an FGM hot-line to provide FGM information;
however, illiteracy impeded some women from distinguishing between the
deep-rooted tradition of FGM and religious practices. Moreover, many
citizens believed that FGM was an important part of maintaining female
chastity. FGM was equally prevalent among Muslims and Christians.
Religious leaders joined the government in publicly refuting that FGM
has religious sanction.
the year the government-established National Council for Childhood and
Motherhood, under the direction of Ambassador Moushira Khattab, launched
a campaign titled "The Beginning of the End" that conducted awareness
sessions, public debates, and media campaigns highlighting the dangers
of FGM. During the year the governorates of Aswan, Sohag, Minya, and
Beni Sweif publicly announced their rejection of FGM and signed
documents making their rejection official.
September 2, a government health official stated that four doctors and a
midwife would be prosecuted for conducting FGM procedures. Consequently,
the government closed the private clinics of the four doctors in Menya.
The case was pending at year's end.
September 15, UNICEF issued a statement commending the June ministerial
decree banning FGM.
Prostitution and sex tourism are illegal but continued to occur,
particularly in Cairo and Alexandria.
harassment is not prohibited specifically by law. According to an April
study by the National Center for Women's Rights, police authorities
receive complaints in only 2 percent of harassment cases. According to
the government's National Centre for Social and Criminal Research,
sexual crimes were on the rise, but no official figures were available.
year's end, there was no government investigation of reports that in
October 2006, during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of
Ramadan, groups of young men sexually harassed female pedestrians in
downtown Cairo. Some critics of the government charged that security
forces had failed to intervene to stop the harassment. Government
officials and certain progovernment newspapers stated that the reports
of harassment were fabricated. The episode sparked considerable public
debate and led to calls by women's rights NGOs and the independent media
for action by the government and society to combat sexual harassment.
provides for equality of the sexes; however, aspects of the law and many
traditional practices discriminated against women. By law, unmarried
women under the age of 21 must have permission from their fathers to
obtain passports and to travel. Married women do not require such
permission, but police did not apply the law consistently. A woman's
testimony is equal to that of a man in court. Under the penal code, a
married man is adulterous only if the sexual act is committed in the
marital home while a woman is adulterous wherever the act is committed.
does not prohibit women from serving as judges. On March 14, the Supreme
Judicial Council approved the appointment of 31 female judges and chief
judges. The government assigned all 31 judges to family courts. Judge
Tahani Al Gebali, who was appointed to the Supreme Constitutional Court
by a presidential decree in 2003, is the only female judge in a higher
March 15, press reports stated that the minister of awqaf (religious
endowments) cancelled the 2006 appointments of approximately 50 female
preachers (murshidaat) to work in different governorates, fearing the
women's choice to wear the "niqab" would influence many others to wear
it. In an earlier statement, the minister stated that the niqab is a
custom and not dictated by Islam, and ultimately he transferred all
female preachers wearing the niqab to administrative positions in the
year's end the Supreme Judicial Council had not ruled on the 2006 cases
of two female attorneys, Fatma Lashin and Amany Talaat, who had
challenged the government's refusal to appoint them as public
affecting marriage and personal status generally corresponded to an
individual's religion. Khul' divorce allows a Muslim woman to obtain a
divorce without her husband's consent, provided that she is willing to
forego all of her financial rights, including alimony, dowry, and other
benefits. However, in practice some judges have not applied the law
accurately or fairly, causing lengthy bureaucratic delays for the
thousands of women who have filed for khul' divorce. Many women have
also complained that after being granted khul' divorce, their
ex-husbands have been able to avoid paying required child support. The
Coptic Orthodox Church permits divorce only in specific circumstances,
such as adultery or conversion of one spouse to another religion.
female heirs receive half the amount of a male heir's inheritance, while
Christian widows of Muslims have no inheritance rights. A sole female
heir receives half her parents' estate; the balance goes to designated
male relatives. A sole male heir inherits all of his parents' property.
Male Muslim heirs face strong social pressure to provide for all family
members who require assistance; however, in practice this assistance was
not always provided. Labor laws provide for equal rates of pay for equal
work for men and women in the public sector. According to government
figures from 2003, women constituted 17 percent of private business
owners and occupied 25 percent of the managerial positions in the four
major national banks. Educated women had employment opportunities, but
social pressure against women pursuing a career was strong. Women's
rights advocates claimed that Islamist influence inhibited further
gains. Women's rights advocates also pointed to other discriminatory
traditional or cultural attitudes and practices, such as FGM and the
traditional male relative's role in enforcing chastity.
27, press reports stated that the government granted citizenship to 236
individuals in accordance with the Law 54 of 2004, which grants
citizenship to children of citizen mothers and noncitizen fathers.
Ministry of Social Solidarity operated more than 150 family counseling
bureaus nationwide, which provided legal and medical services. The
National Council for Women proposed and advocated policies that promoted
women's empowerment and also designed development programs that
benefited women. The Office of the National Ombudsman for Women provided
assistance to women facing discrimination in employment and housing,
domestic violence, sexual assault, and child custody disputes. A number
of active women's rights groups worked to reform family law, educate
women on their legal rights, promote literacy, and combat FGM.
government remained committed to the protection of children's welfare;
in practice, the government made progress in eliminating FGM and in
affording rights to children with foreign fathers. However, the
government made little progress in addressing the plight of street
children, which remained a significant problem.
government provided public education, which is compulsory for the first
nine academic years (typically until the age of 15). The government
treated boys and girls equally at all levels of education. The minister
of education asserted that 98 percent of citizen children were enrolled
in compulsory education through 9th grade. By contrast, UNICEF reported
that in the period between 2000 and 2005, 83 percent of citizen children
of primary school age attended school. Approximately 30 percent of
citizen students pursued studies at the postsecondary level.
government was publicly committed to provide medical care for all
children, but strained health facilities and budgetary pressures
sometimes limited the provision of care.
Child Law provides for privileges, protection, and care for children in
general. Six of the law's 144 articles set rules protective of working
remained a serious problem and was widely performed, despite some signs
of a modest downward trend. In an attempt to curb this practice, the
government initiated a public awareness campaign in 120 villages in the
country. Throughout the year, numerous senior government officials spoke
out publicly against the practice.
labor continued to be a significant problem, although the government
took steps during the year to increase awareness of child labor-related
issues and enforcement.
late November arrests of Ramadan Mansour and several associates in
connection with a series of murders of street children focused public
attention on the plight of the country's approximately 500,000 street
Although reliable data is lacking, several NGOs (including the Hope
Village Society, the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, and the
Alliance for Arab Women) reported that child marriages, including
temporary marriages intended to mask prostitution, were a significant
25, the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) hosted a
regional conference focused on combating violence against children with
an emphasis on limiting trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.
According to the director of NCCM's Child Rescue Hotline, between July
2005 and June 2007 the hotline received 22,158 complaints. The hotline
organized a FGM awareness campaign between July and September increasing
the number of complaints about FGM from 16 to 1,520. Other complaints
included requests for psychological services, legal consultancy, and
Trafficking in Persons
does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons; however, other
portions of the criminal code may be used to prosecute traffickers. It
is unclear how many prosecutions for trafficking offenses occurred
during the year. There were occasional press reports of persons
trafficked from Eastern Europe and Asia through the country to Israel
for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Because the country
lacks a systematic victim identification mechanism, it was difficult to
determine how many of the aliens illegally transiting the country were
trafficked and how many were voluntary economic migrants. The government
aggressively patrolled its borders to prevent alien smuggling, but
geography and finances limited the efforts. Government officials
participated in international conferences on combating trafficking in
persons. Some anti-trafficking activists suggested that some children
may be trafficked from rural areas within the country for work as
domestic servants or laborers in the agriculture industry, but there was
no data available to support or refute this assertion. Antitrafficking
activists and government officials say that some children are vulnerable
to commercial sexual exploitation, but no data was available to quantify
the extent of the potential problem.
10, the prime minister issued a decree establishing a National
Coordinating Committee to Combat and Prevent Trafficking in Persons.
are no laws prohibiting discrimination against persons with physical or
mental disabilities in education, access to health care, or the
provision of other state services. There remained widespread societal
discrimination against persons with disabilities, particularly mental
disabilities, resulting in a lack of acceptance into mainstream society.
Government-run treatment centers for persons with disabilities,
especially children, were poor.
provides that all businesses must designate 5 percent of their jobs for
persons with disabilities who are exempt from normal literacy
requirements. Statistics regarding the practical implementation of this
policy were unavailable. Similarly, there were no reliable statistics
regarding the total number of citizens with disabilities, but NGOs
estimated that at least 8 percent of the population has some sort of
disability, and that 1 to 2 percent of the population is severely
schools reportedly did not discriminate against children with
is no specific legislation providing rights to persons with
disabilities, including access to buildings, transportation and other
public accommodations, health care, and voting; however, persons with
disabilities rode government-owned mass transit buses free of charge,
were expeditiously approved for installation of new telephone landlines,
and received reductions on customs duties for specially equipped private
vehicles to accommodate disabled drivers.
government worked closely with UN agencies and other international aid
donors to design job-training programs for persons with disabilities.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Although the law does not explicitly criminalize homosexual acts, police
have in the past targeted homosexuals using Internet-based "sting"
operations leading to arrests on charges of "debauchery." There were no
reports of such Internet entrapment cases during the year.
were no reports during the year of societal violence against persons
have also been reports of abuse of foreign workers employed as domestic
6 Worker Rights
Right of Association
are no legal obstacles to establishing private sector labor unions,
although such unions were uncommon. Workers may join trade unions, but
were not required to do so. Workers are able to form a local union or
workers' committee if at least 50 employees express a desire to
organize. Local unions can only operate if they affiliate with one of
the 23 existing trade unions which operate with government
authorization. The government requires all 23 trade unions to belong to
the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), the sole legally recognized
labor federation. ETUF controlled the nomination and election procedures
for trade union officers and permitted public authorities to intervene
in union financial activities. State-owned enterprises employed most
union members, who made up approximately one-quarter of the labor force.
Unionization has decreased in the past several years as a result of
early retirement plans in public sector enterprises, which have aimed at
rightsizing workforces. Privatization of public sector enterprises has
also led to some job losses, although unions have continued to operate
in privatized companies.
unions within the ETUF were affiliated with international trade union
organizations. Others were in the process of becoming affiliated. The
law does not permit antiunion discrimination. There were no reports of
attempted discrimination, nor were there reports of attempts to enforce
Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
2003 Labor Law provides for collective bargaining, allowing for
tripartite negotiations to improve labor terms and conditions and
resolve disputes between workers and employers. Collective negotiation
may be set in motion by any of the concerned parties without the consent
of other parties involved, with the assistance of the concerned
also established a national labor consultative council, including
representatives from the government, employers, and workers
associations; however, the council did not meet in 2006 or during the
2003 Labor Law also established special pentagonal committees composed
of two judges and representatives from the Ministry of Manpower and
Migration (MOMM), the ETUF, and employers. The law provides these
committees with judicial powers to adjudicate labor disputes arising
from its application. Decisions by these committees, which are intended
to serve in place of the courts of first instance, may be appealed
through the regular judicial appeals process. Statistics regarding the
number of complaints lodged and verdicts issued were not available at
year's end; however, observers noted that the pentagonal committees
often failed to establish quorums, thus limiting their responsiveness. A
group of workers pursued a case against the Ministry of Justice, arguing
that the formation of pentagonal committees violated the constitution,
but the case had not been heard by year's end.
MOMM has a unit for collective negotiations and monitoring the
implementation of collective agreements. The government sets wages,
benefits, and job classifications for public sector and government
employees, and the private sector sets compensation for its employees in
accordance with the government's laws regarding minimum wages.
labor law permits peaceful strikes, but only after an extended
negotiation process and provided they are announced in advance and
organized by the trade union to defend vocational, economic, and social
interests. In practice strikes are rarely, if ever, approved. To call a
strike, the trade union must notify the employer and concerned
administrative authority at least 10 days in advance of the strike date,
giving the reason for the strike and the date it would commence. Prior
to this formal notification, the strike action must be approved by a
two-thirds majority of the ETUF board of directors. Strikes are
prohibited by law during the validity of collective bargaining
agreements and during the mediation and arbitration process. The law
also prohibits strikes in strategic or vital entities in which the
interruption of work could result in a disturbance of national security
or basic services. There were no formal, authorized strikes during the
year. Wildcat strikes are prohibited, but numerous strikes nonetheless
labor law also regulates litigation related to collective bargaining and
allows collective bargaining in what are identified as strategic and
vital establishments. The Sons of the Land Center for Human Rights, a
workers advocacy NGO, reported that during the year there were 323 labor
related actions, including protests, demonstrations, strikes, and
sit-ins. The group also reported that businesses terminated the
employment of 124,139 workers during this period.
February 6, according to the official news agency, the Shura Council's
National Security Committee cautioned against the danger of workers'
strikes on the country's national security. The committee stressed the
importance of keeping the channels of dialogue constantly open between
trade unions and the government to settle problems facing workers. The
committee asked the government to do more to improve workers' living
conditions and protect their rights.
Strikes, however, continued throughout the year, with complaints
encompassing fears over privatization and job losses, demands for
payment of promised incentives and bonuses, and issues related to health
insurance and medical treatment. Strikes were largely peaceful despite
the heavy government security presence at the larger strikes that
occurred in the industrial heartland. Following December 2006 strikes in
which an estimated 20,000 textile workers at the Ghazl Al-Mahalla
factory engaged in a work stoppage to protest non-payment of bonuses,
the country witnessed a wave of industrial strikes in textile, cement,
oil and soap factories, and by Cairo's subway workers, garbage
collectors, bakers, food processing workers, and others. Many of the
strikers were public sector employees. The disputes leading to the
strikes ranged from outstanding financial claims, low wages,
administrative injustice, privatization, forced retirement, conflicts
over pensions, and vocational health and safety issues.
majority of the high-profile strikes occurred in the public-sector
Beginning on April 21, 250 mostly female workers in Mansoura's Spanish
Garment Factory staged a sit-in on the plant's shop floor after a
dispute with management over missed pay and to protest the sale of the
factory. Workers complained that low salaries failed to meet many of
their basic needs, and charged that the company had failed to pay them
their last 17 bonuses since 1999.
last week of September, 24,000 workers at the Misr Spinning and Weaving
Company in Mahalla al-Kubra went on strike, citing failures by
management to fulfill promises following the December 2006 strike. At
that time, workers agreed to accept annual bonuses equal to 45 days' pay
rather than the two months' pay they had been promised the previous
March. Minister of Investment Mahmoud Mohieldin agreed that if the firm
earned more than $10.7 million (LE 60 million) in profit in the fiscal
year that ended in June, 10 percent of that profit would be distributed
among the employees. During the September strike, the workers occupied
the factory floor of this public sector textile mill and rebuffed the
initial mediation efforts of the ruling NDP. Workers established a
security force to protect the factory premises and threatened to occupy
the company's administrative headquarters as well. Mediation by ETUF,
the MOMM, and the MOI ended the action, but at year's end workers
claimed that all agreements had not yet been honored.
September 24, security forces detained five of the prominent strike
leaders (Faysel La'oush, Mohamed Al Attar, Wael Habib, Magdy Sheif and
Mohamed Abo El Esaad) pending investigations but released them the next
day. The factory's board filed a police complaint accusing the labor
leaders of organizing an unlawful gathering, inciting a strike, and
causing the company losses in the excess of $900,000 (LE 5 million) per
day, according to news reports. On September 29, management and labor
reached an agreement calling for partial payment of the bonuses demanded
by the workers and enabled the resumption of work at the factory.
state-owned press largely downplayed any political aspects of the wave
of labor unrest; however, several state-owned newspaper editorials, as
well as some elected members of parliament, questioned whether or not
certain opposition groups, including the outlawed MB, were responsible
for inciting the unrest.
than large companies in the private sector, firms generally did not
adhere to government-mandated standards. Although they were required to
observe some government practices, such as the minimum wage (the minimum
wage has not yet been formally set, but departments follow an informal
floor), social security insurance, and official holidays, firms often
did not adhere to government practice in non-binding matters, including
award of the annual Labor Day bonus.
law and practice were the same in the six existing export-processing
zones (EPZs) as in the rest of the country.
Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor. The 2003 Labor Law
and the Child Law do not specifically prohibit forced and compulsory
labor by children. Such practices, including by children, were
reportedly rare, but did occur in some carpet/rug factories.
Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
1996 Child Law and its executive regulations protect children from
exploitation in the workplace. While MOMM, working with the NCCM and the
MOI, generally enforced these regulations in state-owned enterprises,
enforcement in the private sector, especially in the informal sector,
was lax. Employers continued to abuse, overwork, and generally endanger
many working children.
limits the type and conditions of work that children under the age of 18
may perform legally. In nonagricultural work, the minimum age for
employment is 14 if the child has completed basic education, which is
offered until 15 years of age. Provincial governors, with the approval
of the minister of education, may authorize seasonal work for children
between the ages of 12 and 14, provided that duties are not hazardous
and do not interfere with schooling.
Preemployment training for children under the age of 12 is prohibited.
Children are prohibited from working for more than six hours per day,
and one or more breaks totaling at least one hour must be included.
Several other restrictions apply to children: they may not work
overtime, during their weekly day(s) off, between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., or
on official holidays. Children are also prohibited from working for more
than four hours continuously.
Statistical information regarding the number of working children was
difficult to obtain and often outdated. NGOs estimated that up to 2.7
million children worked. Government studies indicated that the
concentration of working children was higher in rural than in urban
areas. Approximately 78 percent of working children were in the
agricultural sector. However, children also worked in light industry, on
construction sites, and in service businesses such as auto repair shops.
Press reports continued to focus attention on the estimated 2,000-3,000
children working in the stone quarries in Minya.
Previous changes in the Child Labor Law have not significantly improved
conditions due to lax enforcement by the government. Enforcement
remained spotty, and in cases where offenders have been prosecuted, the
fines imposed were often as small as $3.25 (LE 20) and thus had
questionable deterrent effect. Regulations proposed in 2003 under the
revised labor law, however, sharply increased the minimum fines in child
labor cases to $81 (LE 500). The increased penalties did not appear to
have any impact during the year.
government made progress toward eliminating the worst forms of child
labor, pursuant to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC);
however, many challenges remain. The NCCM also worked with the MOMM,
ETUF, ILO, World Food Program, UNICEF, and various government ministries
to formulate a national strategy to combat child labor and eliminate the
worst forms of child labor; trained police officers on children's rights
and working with juveniles coordinated with the Ministry of Education to
incorporate study of the CRC into curricula; and set up social and
economic projects in several governorates to transfer working children
into non-hazardous activities. NCCM also worked during the year to
provide working children with social security safeguards and reduce
school dropout rates by providing their families with alternative
sources of income.
MOMM increased child labor inspections in governorates with high dropout
rates. On September 13, MOMM spokesman Sameh Mohamed stated that the
ministry's 2,000 labor inspectors across the country have cited 72,000
violations during 2006 and 2007 related to the application of the child
labor law, although the MOMM did not specify the nature of the
government's campaign to increase public awareness of child labor issues
was highlighted by workshops and conferences throughout the year. Many
of these efforts were characterized by high-level government
involvement. For example, from October 29 to November 2, First Lady
Suzanne Mubarak hosted at least 43 African Union ministers responsible
for children's issues in Cairo to discuss, among other issues,
elimination of the worst forms of child labor.
Acceptable Conditions of Work
working hours for government and public sector employees was determined
by the National Council of Wages and differed among sectors. The law
stipulates that 48 hours is the maximum number of hours that may be
worked in one week. Overtime for hours worked beyond 36 per week is
payable at the rate of 35 percent extra for daylight hours and 70
percent extra for work performed at night. The premium for work on rest
days is 100 percent while workers should receive 200 percent for work on
national holidays. The government did not set a formal private sector
minimum wage, although general public sector compensation practices were
followed. The nationwide minimum wage generally was enforced effectively
for larger private companies; however, smaller firms did not always pay
the minimum wage. The minimum wage frequently did not provide a decent
standard of living for a worker and family; however, base pay commonly
was supplemented by a complex system of fringe benefits and bonuses that
may double or triple a worker's take-home pay.
Ministry of Labor sets worker health and safety standards, which also
apply in the EPZs; however, enforcement and inspections were uneven.
2003 labor law prohibits employers from maintaining hazardous working
conditions, and workers have the right to remove themselves from
hazardous conditions without risking loss of employment.
were occasional reports of employer abuse of undocumented workers,
especially domestic workers. A few employers were prosecuted during the
year for abuse of domestic workers, but many claims of abuse were
unsubstantiated because undocumented workers were reluctant to make
their identities public.