Amnesty International posted a reply on its Arabic Facebook page to a statement released by the State Information Service on the 28th of September. SIS’s previous statement addressed a tweet posted by AI accusing the Egyptian authorities of restricting the right to freedom of movement by closing 4 Metro stations in Cairo on Friday the 27th of September. Despite AI’s claim that its reply was to SIS’s statement, it actually did not address its content and took advantage of the opportunity to keep throwing unfounded accusations and propagating false, unverified information regarding the situation in Egypt.
In this context SIS would like to clarify the following points:
· AI’s statement ignored the international legal text that SIS used to support its previous response to AI’s tweet, and that is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 12 of ICCPR allows States to restrict the right to freedom of movement in certain cases including protecting national security and preserving public order, and this was reaffirmed by the Human Rights Committee in its 67th session (1999).
· The conditions stipulated by article 12 of ICCPR were clearly present in the measures taken by Egypt, as calls for violence and incitement were circulated on social media outlets, and also information of the possibility of killings and sabotage across the country was received; In fact, a number of Military officers and soldiers lost their lives on this very days during counter terrorism operations in some parts of North Sinai on the very same day and this proves what was presented by SIS in this context. However, it seems that AI is moved by its political tendencies not its human rights message.
· SIS stresses that the like any other state whose constitution and law uphold the right to peaceful assembly the Egyptian State respects this right which is constitutionally guaranteed after taking the necessary measures stipulated by the competent law. Egypt like most countries carefully applies article 21 of the ICCPR in regulating the right to peaceful assembly through the law and part of article reads. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those which are prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. On the ground the competent authorities did not receive any notification for demonstrations from any political organizations or civil associations or citizens in accordance with Egyptian laws regulating protests over the past days; The explicit questions that AI has to answer in this context are, Does AI’s ignoring of Egyptian legal requirements regulating the right to peaceful assembly represent a clear bias or even encouragement of breaking the law which is stipulated by ICCPR? And does this mean that AI is pushing the situation in Egypt to a state of “creative” or “uncreative” chaos to reach goals dictated by its political leanings and alliances?
· AI insisted that the number of those arrested over the past few days exceeded 2200, and it based this figure on figures released by local and international organizations that may be disguised under a human rights cover, while their core is surely politicized and carries enmity to the Egyptian government. On the other hand, AI completely ignored the official figures in the statement released by the Public Prosecutor, and here we invite AI to read the statement if they haven’t read it or reread in case they did so that they can get to know the nature of the circumstances surrounding the arrests, as these arrests were carried out in accordance with legal measures and they certainly cannot be considered arbitrary detentions as AI claims. The Public Prosecutor’s statement said on that around 1000 defendants were questioned in the presence of their lawyers until last Thursday in accordance with the sound legal measures that come in agreement with the rights stipulated by the Egyptian constitution and the law. The prosecution is still undertaking the investigation to reach the truth along with the defence of the defendants, and will reach a final decision for each of them.