Demonstration on Tahrir Square in the centre of Cairo on 1 February 2011

Political situation Changes in the division of powers and curbs on basic rights

According to its constitution, Egypt is a democratic republic. In practice, however, political participation has become almost impossible since the military coup in 2013. Although elections and referenda are held, they do not comply with internationally recognised standards.

In 2014, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected Egypt’s president; he was confirmed in office in 2018. In 2019, a constitutional amendment entered into force which retrospectively extends the term of office for the head of state to six years, allowing President al-Sisi to continue ruling the country until 2030. Furthermore, the constitutional amendments opened the way for substantial encroachments into the division of powers and expanded the military’s scope to control aspects of civilian life. Members of the armed forces have been appointed to many key positions in politics and the economy.

Background

In the 2011 parliamentary elections, Islamist parties had performed particularly well. The Freedom and Justice Party, which was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, won most of the seats in Parliament. Its leader Mohamed Morsi was elected president of Egypt in 2012. After days of mass protests against his government, he was removed from office by the military in summer 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party were banned; many of their members were arrested and sentenced. The military set up a transitional government, which presented a “roadmap towards democracy”, and in early 2014, a new constitution was approved by referendum.

Human rights

The rights to freedom of opinion, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and press freedom enshrined in the constitution have been increasingly restricted since 2014. Any form of public criticism is proscribed; anyone expressing critical views – including on social media – faces prosecution under criminal law.

From 2017 to 2021, a state of emergency was continuously in force in Egypt. The Egyptian government justified the crackdown on fundamental rights by citing the threat posed by terrorism within Egypt itself, the tense foreign policy situation in the region and the clashes between the military and terrorist groups on the Sinai peninsula. Thus far, the lifting of the state of emergency in October 2021 has not led to any improvement in the human rights situation as the emergency regulations have now been incorporated into ordinary law.

Human rights organisations are reporting arbitrary arrests, torture and forced disappearances, as well as inhumane conditions in the overcrowded prisons. According to Amnesty International, Egypt is among the countries with the highest number of death sentences and executions.

Corruption

On the Corruption Perceptions Index (External link) compiled by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International, Egypt ranked 117th out of the 180 countries evaluated in 2021. Corruption continues to affect many aspects of people’s daily lives, for instance when they attempt to access the services provided by public authorities or when they need medical treatment.


As at: 19/09/2022