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Authorities urged to stop harassing activists calling for transparency in elections

(ANHRI/CIHRS/IFEX) - 14 August 2010 - The Forum of Independent Human Rights Organizations expresses its strong condemnation of the suppression, prosecution and terrorisation of political activists who have called for guarantees of transparency and integrity in the parliamentary and presidential elections, and stress the need for constitutional amendments that provide competitive and free presidential elections.

The Forum has been monitoring the authorities' response to the peaceful march for cars in Alexandria and the repeated arrests, humiliation, physical assaults and verbal abuse of the participants in the peaceful protest calling for political and democratic reform. As well as, the Forum has been monitoring the general prosecutor's investigation into the complaints filed against public figures who criticised the government and the National Democratic Party (NDP), or one of its potential candidates for presidency. In contrast, the Forum notes that several decades' worth of complaints currently sitting in the general prosecutor's office have not been investigated.

Accordingly, the undersigned organisations warn of the consequences of restricting access to the peaceful expression of ideas and denying political opponents' demands, while supporters of the ruling party and one of its candidates for presidency are permitted to launch elections campaigns freely.

The Forum stresses that double standards, use of the emergency law and an arsenal of other laws that restrict freedoms in face of the political opposition groups, cast serious consequences on the future of the political process in Egypt at this crucial turning point.

Accordingly, the Forum calls on state agencies to put an end to the policies, practices of terrorism and the continued harassment of political activists under the emergency law, and demands that they respect safeguards aimed at protecting the right to freedom of expression, the right of assembly and association, and demonstrate full commitment to the principle of neutrality toward all candidates.

The Forum reminds officials in all the state agencies that they should not be aligned to individuals or a particular party, and they are obliged under the law to be neutral, especially during the electoral process and the lead up to this time. As well, breach of neutrality threatens to undermine the political and legal legitimacy of such elections and the election's official results.

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Non-IFEX signatories:

Hisham Mubarak Law Center
The Association for Human Rights Legal Aid
Land Center for Human Rights
Nadeem Center for Psychological Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture
The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners
Arab Penal Reform Organization

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