EXCLUSIVE: Rights group slams Egypt’s state of emergency

2017-04-14 16:40

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Cape Town – A rights group has criticised the recently imposed state of emergency in Egypt, saying it would open more room for human rights violations by authorities.

In a telephone interview with News24, Human Rights Watch Deputy Director, Middle East and North Africa Division, Joe Stork, said the North African country was capable of handling its security concerns without imposing a state of emergency rule.

Stork said the state of emergency was a broad rule that restricted people's freedoms, and as a result would further restrict people’s rights.

He stated that there were better ways of ensuring the safety of Egyptians without imposing a blanket restriction rule.

“We think that Egypt has adequate security measures and can deal with its security concerns without it imposing a general restriction rule. There are better ways that the Egyptian authorities can use to deal with their security concerns,” said Stork.

Human rights abuses

He further accused President Abdel Fattah al Sisi's government of general human right abuses.

Stork said the north African country was becoming a police state where human rights violations were committed by security agents.

“The Sisi regime has previously committed human rights violations as it often deals with dissents in a brutal manner. Therefore by imposing general restrictions, the state is opening up more room for human rights abuses. It is, therefore, worrisome for it to impose a state of emergency as this could worsen human rights violations,” added Stork.

Egypt's parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved a three-month state of emergency declared by President Sisi after deadly church bombings, said reports.

The measure was published in Egypt's official gazette on Monday, and was said to have come into effect at 11:00 GMT the same day, after 45 Coptic Christians were killed in Sunday's twin bombings.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the violence, adding to fears that extremists are shifting their focus to civilians, especially Egypt's Christian minority.

The attacks in the northern cities of Tanta and Alexandria that also left more than 100 people wounded came at the start of the Holy Week leading up to Easter, and just weeks before Pope Francis was due to visit.

Pope Tawadros II, the leader of the Coptic Church who will meet with Francis on April 28-29, was in the Alexandra cathedral at the time of the bombing, but was unhurt.

“The Christian minorities have been treated as second citizens for a very long time, and they are now made to pay for problems which are not of their own doing. The country is suffering from political and economic uncertainty and as a result minorities such as the Coptic Christians are bearing the brunt for the shortcomings of Sisi’s administration,” said Stork.

Read more on:    isis  |  pope francis  |  abdel fatah al-sisi  |  egypt  |  north africa

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