The POMED Wire

Egypt Under President Sisi: Even Worse than Under Mubarak or Morsi

June 2016

Prison Conditions: Egypt has arrested more than 40,000 political detainees since mid-2013. Former Egyptian American political prisoner Mohamed Soltan has described prisons as “fertile ground for radicalization.”

Torture: The El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence reported 137 deaths due to torture while in detention in 2015. Other local organizations have documented hundreds of additional torture cases.

Extrajudicial Killings: Egyptian rights groups have documented 754 extrajudicial killings by security forces in 2016. There has been no accountability for security forces’ killing of a reported 1,100 protestors in July and August 2013.

Forced Disappearances: According to credible local sources, Egypt’s state intelligence and security agencies abducted and disappeared 204 people between December 2015 and March 2016.

Military Courts: In April 2016, Human Rights Watch reported that military courts have tried at least 7,420 Egyptian civilians since October 2014 under the courts’ expanded authority granted by President Sisi.

Death Sentences: An estimated 1,700 people have been sentenced to death since 2014 in what many governments and rights organizations describe as unfair and politically motivated trials lacking due process.

Terrorism Law: The 2015 anti-terrorism law grants the president, …

Morocco: Journalists Stand Trial for Use of Smartphone App

Photo Credit: Reuters

In Morocco, seven journalists are standing trial in connection with their involvement with a citizen journalism training program utilizing a smartphone app. They are accused of “threatening the internal security of the state” by using “propaganda” that may threaten the “loyalty that citizens owe to the State and institutions of the Moroccan people” under Article 206 of the Penal Code. Two of the journalists are also accused of receiving foreign funding without prior authorization from the government.

If convicted, the activists could face up to five years in prison. The journalists are reportedly free pending the outcome of their trial, but could be arrested at any moment should the courts convict them. The trial, set for Wednesday, June 29, was then postponed [Fr] until October 26 as a result of a procedural error. International observers were present at the trial.

The training of citizen journalists utilized the app StoryMaker, a secure and open-source storytelling app designed to help citizen journalists write and publish professional-level news reports through their smartphones. The app was developed by Dutch organization Free Press Unlimited, as well as the Guardian Project and Small World News. Free Press Unlimited reported that its requests to …

Turkey Arrests Three Activists for Promoting “Terrorist Propaganda”

Turkey Arrests Three Activists on Terrorism Charges: Turkey arrested three press freedom activists on charges of spreading “terrorist propaganda” after they edited the Ozgur Gundem magazine, a newspaper that reports on Kurdish issues. The activists, Local Reporters Without Borders (RSF) representative Erol Onderoglu, author Ahmet Nesin, and President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey Korur Fincanci, were ordered to be held in pretrial detention after they guest-edited the magazine and lobbied against its censorship. The three activists had joined a “solidarity campaign” with 50 other journalists to guest-edit the magazine for a day each. Ozgur Gundem is considered to be closely linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated a terrorist organization by the Turkish government. Ankara has attempted to suppress critics of the current military campaign against the PKK in southeastern Turkey, and Ozgur Gundem has been subjected to dozens of investigations, fines, and arrests of journalists since 2014. Fincanci, who won the first International Medical Peace Award for helping the UN establish principles for detecting and documenting torture, defended her work, telling the court that all the articles in the issue that she edited “should be covered by the principles of freedom …

State Department Reports on Bahrain’s Implementation of the BICI

The State Department submitted to Congress an unclassified report on the steps taken by the Government of Bahrain to implement the recommendations in the 2011 Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) on June 21, 2016. The report was required by the FY16 Omnibus appropriations bill that was enacted on December 18, 2015, and due to be submitted to Congress on February 1, 2016. The report was released 141 days late, amid an escalating crackdown on dissenting voices, opposition figures, and the Shi’a religious community in Bahrain.  The full text of the report is available here.

The November 2011 BICI report outlined specific recommendations for the Government of Bahrain to move from a period of unrest following the popular uprising of 2011 into national reconciliation and reform. The recommendations of the BICI report included the release of political prisoners, reinstatement of dismissed workers and students, creation of independent institutions to provide oversight over the security forces, reconstruction of destroyed Shi’a mosques, integration of the security forces, and the establishment of an independent national commission to implement the BICI recommendations.

The State Department report cites Congressional language requiring the report  to describe “the specific steps taken by the …

Kuwaiti MP Convicted for Anti-Saudi Statements

The Kuwaiti National Assembly sentenced in absentia outspoken lawmaker and lawyer Abdul Hamid Dashti to 10 days in prison pending further investigation and trial by Kuwait’s top criminal court, at which point Dashti could face a longer sentence. The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed against Dashti by the Saudi Embassy for comments the lawmaker made about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. According to the Public Prosecutor, three new complaints have been brought against Dashti in recent weeks, bringing the total number of complaints against Dashti to nine. In March of this year, Dashti’s parliamentary immunity was stripped for repeatedly defaming Saudi Arabia, leaving the lawmaker vulnerable to imprisonment and other criminal charges.

Dashti has long been a critic of the Saudi government’s intervention in the 2011 uprising in Bahrain and support of the al-Khalifa ruling family, the ongoing military intervention in Yemen’s civil war, and propagation of “terrorism” in Syria – Dashti is a supporter of Syrian President Assad, not the Saudi-backed rebel forces. These comments over the years have place Dashti at risk of arrest both at home and abroad.

Under Kuwaiti law, any individual convicted of a hostile attack against a …

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