Key human rights concerns ahead of presidential elections

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Egypt’s presidential elections will not wipe the country’s human rights record clean after 10 months of gross violations, Amnesty International said today.

Instead, the organization has warned that the human rights situation is likely to continue to deteriorate, with neither of Egypt’s two presidential candidates pledging any human rights reforms, nor action to hold those responsible for abuses to account. Instead, both candidates have made a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood movement a signature issue.

Presidential candidate Abdel Fattah El Sisi, the former minister of defence and deputy prime minister for security matters, has stated that the Muslim Brotherhood will not exist under his rule. Hamdeen Sabahi, Egypt’s other presidential candidate, has said that “there is no place for the Muslim Brotherhood in the political life, whether as a party or a group”.

Amnesty International acknowledges that the security situation has deteriorated in the months following Mohamed Morsi’s ousting, with army checkpoints, security personnel and government buildings all coming under increased attacks. The media has reported that attacks against the security forces have left hundreds of security personnel dead since 3 July 2013.

Attacks have also appeared to increasingly target ordinary Egyptians. The organization denounces indiscriminate attacks, as well as attacks targeting civilians by armed groups.

It is the responsibility of the state to uphold the rights to life and security of people and bring those responsible for violent attacks to justice. However, in doing so Egypt must not use it as an excuse to crackdown on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

Since Mohamed Morsi’s ousting as president on 3 July 2013, the country has witnessed human rights abuses on an unprecedented scale. Hundreds of people have died in protests and political violence – many at the hands of the security forces. The nadir came on 14 August 2013, when security forces used excessive force – including lethal force – to dismantle two sit-ins by Morsi supporters in Nasr City and Giza, killing over 600 people in a single day and triggering a wave of political violence, as well as sectarian attacks on Coptic Christians. The violence that followed the dispersal led to the killing of another 622 people across the country until 17 August 2013, according to a report by the National Council for Human Rights. Following the ousting of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July, more than 1,400 people have died in protests and political violence.