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Human Rights Watch report points to systematic crackdown before elections

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - Cairo, November 24, 2010 - Egypt has carried out mass arbitrary arrests, wholesale restrictions on public campaigning, and widespread intimidation of opposition candidates and activists in the weeks leading up to parliamentary elections on November 28, 2010, Human Rights Watch said today. In a report released today, Human Rights Watch argues that the repression makes free and fair elections unlikely.

The 24-page report, "Elections in Egypt, State of Permanent Emergency Incompatible with Free and Fair Vote," documents the vague and subjective criteria in Egypt's Political Parties Law that allow the government and ruling party to impede the formation of new political parties. Egypt remains under an Emergency Law that since 1981 has given security officials free rein to prohibit or disperse election-related rallies, demonstrations, and public meetings, and to detain people indefinitely without charge.

For this election, unlike others over the last 10 years, the government has drastically limited independent judicial supervision, following 2007 constitutional amendments that further eroded political rights. The government has rejected calls for international observers, insisting that Egyptian civil society organizations will ensure transparency. As of November 23, however, the main coalitions of nongovernmental organizations have yet to receive any of the 2,200 permits they have requested to monitor voting and vote counting.

"The combination of restrictive laws, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests is making it extremely difficult for citizens to choose freely the people they want to represent them in parliament," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Repression by the government makes free and fair elections extremely unlikely this weekend."

Human Rights Watch is not monitoring the voting or counting process in the Egyptian elections. As it has elsewhere, it is focusing on documenting systematic violations of the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association – rights that are fundamental to free and fair elections.

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Click here to read the full press release

Click below to download the report:
elections-in-egypt.pdf (280 KB)

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