Since the submission of its last report, Egypt has witnessed tangible progress in the field of human rights, in line with the provisions and spirit of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, civic, political, economic, social and cultural rights, with particular emphasis on the rights of women, children and physically challenged persons. Based on its convictions and commitment to the principle of equality without any discrimination, Egypt has spared no efforts in guaranteeing human rights for all its citizens to preserve their human dignity within the context of a democratic society founded on freedom liberty and justice.
In a regional environment characterized by volatile internal developments, Egypt witnessed the eruption of the popular revolution of 25th January 2011 when the people of Egypt demanded the overthrow of the regime and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, raising the banner of freedom, decent living and social justice. Political events then unfolded, leading to the election of a President from the Muslim Brotherhood in June 2012. The turnout in that election was 51.8% and the candidate won 51.7% of the votes. However, the people were surprised that the new president continued to pursue despotic policies that undermined the rule of law and ran counter to the objectives of the January 25 Revolution.
These policies entrenched the concentration of power in the hands of the President’s party. The President issued a constitutional declaration by virtue of which he shielded his decisions from judicial oversight and attacked the independence of the judiciary with the removal of the Attorney General. He equally failed to enforce court rulings that did not favor the political interests of his group, His supporters also besieged the headquarters of the Supreme Constitutional Court to prevent it from performing its work. The President and his party adopted political rhetoric that incited hatred and violence among the citizenry and discriminated against them according to their political and religious affiliations. Also, the committee formed by the President to develop a constitution consisted solely of the supporters of the President's political group, chosen on religious grounds. Despite a judicial ruling that nullified the formation of that 3 committee for violating democratic standards, a constitution was drafted on December 25, 2012, that was largely exclusionary and contained blatant aberrations from the power of constitutional legislation; this was followed by the dismissal of a number of judges of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
When the people discovered that the President had deviated from the objectives of the January revolution which he promised to achieve, and that he was jeopardizing the rule of law, a movement of popular protests and demonstrations began. Although a popular campaign to collect citizens’ signatures in support of an early presidential election was initiated, attracting around 22 million citizens, this was dismissed by the President. His supporters met these peaceful demonstrations with violence and intimidation. Faced with this rejection, nearly 30 million citizens took to the streets on June 30, 2013 to demand the overthrow of the existing regime and correct the course of their revolution. Thus, the political and popular forces agreed on a national road map to rebuild constitutional institutions and establish a democratic system that addresses the shortcomings of the previous phase. A 50-member-committee of members of Egyptian society was formed to amend the constitution. A revised constitutional draft was adopted in a popular referendum that won the support of 98.1% of the electorate, with women participating to an unprecedented degree in the referendum process.
An amended constitution was issued on January 18, 2014 which represented a victory for the objectives and principles of the revolution. This new constitution also constituted a quantum leap towards improving the human rights situation in Egypt. This was followed by presidential elections held in mid-May 2014 in the second phase of the roadmap. The participation rate of Egyptians at home and abroad reached 47.45% of the total number of voters with the currently serving president winning with 96.91% of the total vote, amid high participation by women. By the end of 2015, the final form of the road map was completed with the election of members of the House of Representatives. The country witnessed presidential and parliamentary elections which were monitored by a host of civil society organizations and representatives from the African Union, as well as a number of regional and international organizations, with observers unanimously agreeing that the electoral process met all the criteria of transparency, neutrality 4 and integrity, culminating in the creation of an institutional basis for the establishment of a democratic system based on respect for human rights and basic freedoms.
This report submitted to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights covers the period from 2001 to 2017. It reflects the efforts and actions taken by the state during that period to promote and protect human rights, taking into account all the commission’s observations regarding the previous report, each of which we will mention.
This report includes two main parts: The first revolves around general rules to ensure the respect and protection of human rights in Egypt, while the second deals with the rights contained in the African Charter, as follows: