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November 13, 2013

Egypt Human Rights Concerns Persist Despite End of State of Emergency

U.S. Should Offer Help in Combating Widespread Sexual Harassment

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today cautioned that while the formal Egyptian state of emergency may be lifted, Egypt’s pending anti-protest law and the proposed counterterrorism law would replicate many of the current powers of the emergency law.

“Egypt still has a very long way to go, but ending the state of emergency and the curfew are the right things to do, if it leads to stronger legal protections for basic rights and freedoms,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks, who will be traveling to Cairo later this month.  The state of emergency and curfew were imposed three months ago after Egyptian security forces cleared protests in Cairo supporting former President Morsi, leaving hundreds dead.

“Egypt needs to see a restoration of the rule of law and respect for basic rights if it is to find a path out of its crisis,” added Hicks. “The Egyptian military still has unfettered powers to detain and try civilians beyond the jurisdiction of civilian courts.”

The emergency law development comes on the heels of a Thomson-Reuters Foundation poll in which 336 gender experts ranked Egypt worst of 22 Arab countries for women’s rights, citing trafficking, female genital mutilation and sexual harassment as key factors.

“Widespread sexual harassment is an enormous problem for Egypt and must be urgently addressed. The U.S. government and other governments should offer whatever help they can in combating it,” said Hicks.

The Thomson-Reuters poll noted that despite hopes for greater women’s rights when the Morsi government was toppled in July, women still face daily dangers on the street. The poll also cited a U.N. report on women in April this year that said 99.3 percent of women and girls were subjected to sexual harassment in Egypt.

For more information or to speak with Hicks, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.