Image
24 November 2019 Amid growing criticism about violation of human rights in Egypt, Eyptian security forces raid an independent news outlet office

On 24 November Egyptian security forces raided the offices of independent news outlet Mada Masr, according to reports on Twitter of the media itself. Three journalists were arrested and released hours after. The raid comes after Mada Masr news editor Shady Zalat was arrested at his home on 23 November. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the arrests and called the authorities to end the “retaliation campaign”. The EU has also expressed its concern about restrictions to freedom of expression. Egypt is the third country in numbers of journalists arrested after China and Turkey. The raid on Mada Masr came two weeks after Egypt was criticized over its human rights record during the 34th session of the Human Rights’ Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Representatives from different countries showed concern for the current conditions and shrinking freedoms in the country, including allegations of torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, as well as mass trials, dire conditions in detention, discrimination against women and use of death penalty. They also pointed out the shrinking space for civil society after 4,000 people were arrested last September after protesting against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, including lawyers, activists, professors and journalists. Omar Marwan, Egyptian Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, spoke before the delegates and defended the “great efforts” his country is making to improve respect for human rights. British Ambassador Julien Braithwaite stated his concern for the “restrictions on human rights defenders, including arrests, travel bans, asset freezes” while the Swedish Ambassador Veronika Bard urged the country “to stop unduly restricting space for civil society”. Several delegates also questioned Marwan about detention conditions in Egypt, hinting to the death of former President Mohammad Morsi. The Turkish representative urged Egypt to carry out an impartial and transparent investigation into Morsi’s death and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard expressed her fear that other prisoners might find the same fate. All 193 UN members must undergo UPR every four years.