Report on Human Rights Practices for 1999
According to its Constitution, Egypt is a social democracy
in which Islam is the state religion. The National Democratic Party (NDP),
which has governed since its establishment in 1978, has used its entrenched
position to dominate national politics, and it maintains an overriding
majority in the popularly elected People's Assembly and the partially elected
Shura (Consultative) Council. President Hosni Mubarak was reelected unopposed
to a fourth 6-year term in a national referendum held in September. The
Cabinet and the country's 26 governors are appointed by the President and may
be dismissed by him at his discretion. The judiciary is independent; however,
there is no appellate process for verdicts issued by the military or State
Security Emergency courts.
There are several security services in the Ministry of
Interior, two of which are involved primarily in combating terrorism: The
State Security Investigations Sector (SSIS), which conducts investigations and
interrogates detainees; and the Central Security Force (CSF), which enforces
curfews and bans on public demonstrations, and conducts paramilitary
operations against terrorists. The President is the commander-in-chief of the
military; the military is a primary stabilizing factor within society but
generally does not involve itself in internal issues. The use of violence by
security forces in the campaign against suspected terrorists appeared more
limited than in previous years. The security forces committed numerous serious
human rights abuses.
Egypt is in transition from a government-controlled economy
to a free market system. The Government continued its privatization program,
although key sectors of the economy remain under government control.
Agriculture remains the largest employer and is almost entirely in private
hands. The tourism sector generates the largest amount of foreign currency.
Petroleum exports, Suez Canal revenues, and remittances from approximately 2
million Egyptians working abroad are the other principal sources of foreign
currency. These income sources are vulnerable to external shocks. Over the
past decade, the Government has enacted significant economic reforms, which
have reduced the budget deficit, stabilized the exchange rate, reduced
inflation and interest rates significantly, and built up substantial reserves.
However, export growth has lagged behind the growth in imports, which has
resulted in an increase in the merchandise trade deficit to $12 billion for
the year 1998-99. Several government policies enacted during the year,
including restrictive trade decrees and foreign exchange rationing, led
observers to question whether the Government can sustain its current exchange
rate policy and interest rates. President Mubarak reshuffled the Cabinet in
October to address these problems and to institute more coherent economic
policies and accelerated reforms. Continued progress in economic development
depends primarily upon implementation of a wide range of structural reforms.
The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is about $1,100 per year. Official
statistics place 34.4 percent of wage earners in the agricultural sector, and
knowledgeable observers estimate that perhaps 3 to 5 percent of those engage
in subsistence farming. The annual population increase is 2.1 percent. Adult
literacy rates are 63 percent for males and 34 percent for females.
The Government continued to commit numerous serious human
rights abuses, although its record again improved somewhat over the previous
year, mainly due to a decrease in terrorist activity by Islamic extremists.
The ruling NDP dominates the political scene to such an extent that citizens
do not have a meaningful ability to change their government.
The Emergency Law, which has been in effect since 1981,
continues to restrict many basic rights. The security forces continued to
arrest and detain suspected members of terrorist groups. In fighting the
terrorists, the security forces continued to mistreat and torture prisoners,
arbitrarily arrest and detain persons, hold detainees in prolonged pretrial
detention, and occasionally engage in mass arrests. In actions unrelated to
the antiterrorist campaign, local police killed, tortured, and otherwise
abused both criminal suspects and other persons. The Government took
disciplinary action against police officers accused of abusing detainees,
including prosecution of several offenders, but it did not pursue most cases
or seek adequate punishments. In August the public prosecutor reopened and
expanded an investigation into police brutality and torture that took place
during a 1998 police investigation of a double murder in the largely Coptic
village of Al-Kush in Sohag governorate.
Prison conditions remain poor. The Ministry of Interior
released more than 1,000 political detainees, bringing the total number of
detainees released since 1998 to more than 6,000. The use of military courts
to try civilians continued to infringe on a defendant's right to a fair trial
before an independent judiciary. During the year, the Government referred 3
cases involving 148 civilian defendants to the military court system. Twenty
of these defendants are leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. They were arrested
in October on charges of illegal political activity. Most observers believe
that the Government is seeking to block Muslim Brotherhood participation in
the elections to professional syndicates and the People's Assembly. The
Government used the Emergency Law to infringe on citizens' privacy rights.
Although citizens generally express themselves freely, the Government
partially restricts freedom of the press. The Government significantly
restricts freedom of assembly and association. The Government places
restrictions on freedom of religion. Despite difficulties due to an inadequate
legal framework and periodic government harassment, a number of local human
rights groups are active. Although the Government does not recognize them
legally, it allows these groups to operate openly.
Domestic violence against women is a problem. Although the
Government enforces the 1996 decree banning the practice of female genital
mutilation (FGM), many families persist in subjecting their daughters to the
traditional practice. Women and Christians face discrimination based on
tradition and some aspects of the law. Terrorist violence against Christians
has been a problem in recent years. There were no reports of terrorist attacks
against Christians during the year; however, a Christian priest in Mahalla and
a Christian priest in Dairout were attacked by individual extremists. Child
labor remains widespread despite government efforts to eradicate it. Abuse by
employers continues, and the Government does not enforce the law effectively.
The Government limits workers' rights.
In contrast to the previous year, and for the first time in
10 years, there were no reports of terrorist incidents.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person,
Including Freedom From:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no reports of political killings; however,
police committed extrajudicial killings, and such killings also may have
occurred in certain antiterrorist operations.
In August The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR)
reported the deaths of five criminal suspects in police custody during the
year: Ahmad Mahmoud Mohamed Tammam, Hany Kamal Shawky, Said Sayyed Abd Al-Aal,
Hamdy Ahmad Mohamed Ahmad Askar, and Amr Salim Mohamed (see Section 1.c.). The
Ministry of Interior responded to the EOHR's inquiry about these cases, and
noted that the Public Prosecutor charged a security official with premeditated
murder in one instance (see Section 1.c.).
The London-based Islamic Observation Center reported that
Mahmoud Agami Muhalhel Muawad died on October 21 in Damanhour prison as a
result of poor conditions. Muawad's older brother, Sayyed Agami Muhalhel
Muawad, was convicted in absentia in April by a military court and sentenced
to 10 years in prison for membership in the terrorist group, the "Jihad
Group of Egypt" (see Sections 1.c. and 1.e.). The press reported the
following deaths due to police torture: Ahmad Mahmoud Ali Abdallah, who died
on November 1 as a result of torture in a Cairo police station; Sharif Abd Al-Galil
Sharaf, who died on December 2 after being detained and tortured in a police
station in the governorate of Sharkiya; and Mohamed Ahmad Ibrahim, who died
after being detained in a police station in Alexandria late in the year (see
During the year, the public prosecution referred to court
the case of five security officials accused of premeditated murder in the 1998
death in detention of Waheed Al-Sayyid Ahmad. A court date was not set by
year's end. The public prosecution took no action on the case of Gamal
Mohammed Abdallah Mustafa, who died as a result of police torture in 1998. The
public prosecution took no action on the case of a businessman who died in
1997 in the governorate of Galoubiya, reportedly as a result of police torture
(see Section 1.c.).
In antiterrorist campaigns, security forces killed four
members of the "Islamic Group of Egypt" (IG), including Farid Salim
Abdel Qader Kidwani, who was the leader of the IG's military wing. The
security forces reportedly raided an IG hideout in Giza on September 7. The
four IG members were killed in an exchange of gunfire. On August 1, a resident
of Assiyut governorate shot and killed a member of the security forces. The
gunman subsequently was shot and killed by security forces. Although there
were some reports that this exchange was a terrorist incident, local observers
attribute the incident to a dispute over cattle theft. There were no reports
of killings of relatives of suspected extremists by security forces in
According to press reports, in October a State Security
Emergency court began the trial of four members of a terrorist group from the
upper (southern) Egyptian city of Dairout who were accused of murder and
attempted murder of policemen and Christians in the early 1990's. The trial
was postponed until December, then later postponed again until February 2000.
There was no information available about the identities of the defendants and
the specific charges against them (see Sections 1.e. and 5.).
According to reports released by the Land Center for Human
Rights, during the year, 64 persons died and 324 were wounded in land
disputes, including conflicts over demarcation lines, water rights, and cattle
theft. The Land Center also reported 265 arrests related to land disputes.
These incidents took place in rural areas, primarily in upper (southern)
There were no reports of politically motivated
The Human Rights Center for the Assistance of Prisoners
reported six new cases of persons who disappeared between 1989 and 1998. The
Center learned that 3 of the 19 persons reported missing in 1998 are in
prison. The EOHR continues to investigate 30 previously reported
disappearances. The EOHR has provided these names to the U.N. Committee on
Disappearances, but the Government reportedly has denied any involvement in
On February 22, an appeals court in Cairo ordered the
Ministry of Interior to pay Bahaa Al-Amary, the wife of former Libyan Foreign
Minister Mansur Kikhiya, $30,000 (100,000 Egyptian pounds). Kikhiya's family
sued the Government following reports that he had been kidnaped from Cairo by
Libyan agents, taken to Libya, and executed there in 1994. The court awarded
the sum as compensation for the Ministry of Interior's inability to protect a
foreign dignitary on Egyptian soil. The Ministry of Interior appealed the
decision to the Court of Cassation. The case is pending.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment
The Constitution prohibits the infliction of "physical
or moral harm" upon persons who have been arrested or detained; however,
torture and abuse of detainees by police, security personnel, and prison
guards is common.
Under the Penal Code, torture of a defendant or giving
orders to torture are felonies punishable by temporary hard labor or 3 to 10
years' imprisonment. If the defendant dies, the crime is one of intentional
murder punishable by a life sentence at hard labor. Arrest without due cause,
threatening death, or using physical torture is punishable by temporary hard
labor. The use of cruelty against persons by relying on one's position is
punishable by imprisonment of no more than 1 year or a fine of no more than
$65 (125 Egyptian pounds). Victims may bring a criminal or civil action for
compensation against the responsible government agency. There is no statute of
limitations in such cases.
Despite these legal safeguards, there were numerous
credible reports, including statements by government officials, that security
forces tortured and mistreated citizens. Reports of torture and mistreatment
at police stations remain frequent. According to a newspaper interview
published in June, Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly said that human rights were
"an important component of state practices," and that he was seeking
"to restore the necessary level of security discipline." He stated
that it was necessary to restore the confidence of citizens in the
"competence" of the security services, and to restore "the
positive relationship" between citizens and the security services. In
August it was reported in the press that the Public Prosecutor instructed his
subordinates to avoid the use of physical or psychological violence during the
interrogation of suspects.
However, while the Government has investigated torture
complaints in criminal cases and punished some offending officers, the
punishments do not conform with the seriousness of the offense. Government
officials have stated that administrative punishments can be severe enough to
prevent further career advancement, and that some police officers have chosen
to face criminal charges instead. The Government has stated that it would not
disclose further details of individual cases of police abuse for fear of
harming the morale of law enforcement officers involved in counterterrorism
Human rights groups believe that the SSIS continues to
employ torture. Torture takes place in SSIS offices, including its
headquarters in Cairo, and at Central Security Force camps. Torture victims
usually are taken to an SSIS office where they are handcuffed, blindfolded,
and questioned about their associations, religious beliefs, and political
views. Torture is used to extract information, coerce the victims to end their
antigovernment activities, and deter others from such activities.
Egyptian human rights groups and victims reported a number
of torture methods that are employed by state security personnel and the
police. Detainees frequently are stripped; hung by their wrists with their
feet just touching the floor or forced to stand for prolonged periods; doused
with hot or cold water; beaten; forced to stand outdoors in cold weather; and
subjected to electrical shocks. Some victims, including female detainees,
report that they have been threatened with rape.
While the law requires security authorities to keep written
records of detained citizens, human rights groups report that such records
often are not available, not found, or that the police deny any knowledge of
the detainee when inquiries are made about specific cases, effectively
blocking the investigation of torture complaints.
In January the Human Rights Center for the Assistance of
Prisoners released a report called "The Price of Dignity: Torture in
Egypt is a Judicial Reality." The report presents a random sample of 190
cases of torture from the period 1982 to 1997. All of the cases involve a
civilian defendant who successfully sued the Ministry of Interior for
compensation for torture inflicted by state security forces or police during
detention. For the 190 sample cases cited, the Interior Ministry was ordered
to pay a total of $ 260,000 (877,000 Egyptian pounds) in awards ranging from
$150 (500 Egyptian pounds) to $10,300 (35,000 Egyptian pounds).
In August the EOHR reported that five criminal suspects
died during the year while in police custody, and provided eyewitness accounts
of police torture of these persons. According to the EOHR, Hamdy Ahmad Mohamed
Askar died on February 16 in Al-Mansoura general hospital, where he had been
transferred following detention at a police station in Mansoura Governorate.
Said Sayyed Abd Al-Aal died on April 17 in a police station in Giza. Hany
Kamal Shawky died on April 21 in a police station in Cairo. Amr Salim Mohamed
died on July 17 in a police station in the governorate of Galoubiya. Ahmad
Mahmoud Mohamed Tammam died on July 21 in a police station in Giza.
In response to the EOHR's inquiry about these cases, the
Ministry of Interior stated that Askar had been transferred to the hospital
because of respiratory problems, and noted that the forensics evidence
conflicts with eyewitness accounts of Askar's treatment. According to the
Ministry, Abd Al-Aal died from circulatory failure in a hospital. The Ministry
reported that the Public Prosecutor charged a security official in Cairo with
premeditated murder following the death of Shawky. The Ministry stated that a
forensic report indicated that Mohamed died from pleural effusion and
circulatory failure, and noted that Mohamed's father said that his son was
suffering from pneumonia.
The Islamic Observation Center, based in London, reported
that Mahmoud Agami Muhalhel Muawad died on October 21 in Damanhour prison
"as a result of the deteriorating conditions of Egyptian prisons."
Muawad was the younger brother of Sayyed Agami Muhalhel Muawad, who was
convicted in absentia in April by a military court and sentenced to 10 years
in prison for membership in the terrorist group the Islamic Jihad of Egypt
(see Sections 1.a. and 1.e.). The press reported that Ahmad Mahmoud Ali
Abdallah was arrested on October 30 and died on November 1 at the Rod Al-Farag
police station in Cairo from torture. Abdallah's family claimed that the
police forced them to bury his body, which revealed evidence of torture. In
December the press reported that 16-year-old Mohamed Ahmad Ibrahim died after
police tortured him in the Al-Raml police station in Alexandria. Ibrahim's
family complained to the office of the public prosecutor about bruises on
their son's body. The press also reported that police in Minya Al-Kamh in the
governorate of Sharikiya tortured to death Sharif Abd Al-Galil Sharaf. Sharif
reportedly was arrested on November 13 and beaten so badly that he fell into a
coma. He was taken to a hospital where he died on December 2.
In May the Public Prosecutor in Sohag announced that the
medical evidence did not support allegations of police torture and
mistreatment of 15 suspects from the village of Al-Kush in the governorate of
Sohag in 1998 (see Sections 2.a., 2.c., and 4). The Sohag Public Prosecutor
dismissed the charges against the police officers. The 15 suspects were
detained during a 1998 murder investigation and subsequently filed an official
complaint. There was no evidence to substantiate a newspaper report that the
Government compensated the four implicated officers, and the minister of
Interior denied the report. The officers were transferred during the
investigation and have not been reassigned to Al-Kush. In August the newly
appointed national Public Prosecutor reopened and expanded the investigation
of police conduct in Al-Kush. According to the EOHR and other groups, during
the incident, the police detained hundreds of citizens, including relatives of
suspects, women, and children. Local observers reported that police tortured
and mistreated dozens of these detainees. The public prosecution is
interviewing 989 Al-Kush residents about the incident.
During the year the public prosecution referred to court
the case of five security officials accused of premeditated murder in the 1998
death of Waheed Al-Sayyid Ahmad, who allegedly died as a result of police
torture. A court date was not set by year's end. The public prosecution took
no action on the case of Gamal Mohammed Abdallah Mustafa, who died as a result
of police torture in 1998. The public prosecution took no action on the case
of a businessman who died in 1997 in the governorate of Galoubiya, reportedly
as a result of police torture. The public prosecution continued to investigate
the torture of Mohammed Badr Al-Din Gomah in 1996 by 13 members of the
Alexandria police force. The appeal of a 1-year sentence of a police officer
convicted of engaging in torture in 1994 is pending.
A December 31 dispute escalated into violent exchanges
between Christians and Muslims in the south (see Section 5.).
Prison conditions remain poor. Government authorities
reported the renovation or construction of 14 prisons during the past 5 years.
Nonetheless, human rights groups report that overcrowding and unhealthy
conditions continue. Cells are poorly ventilated, food is inadequate in
quantity and nutritional value, drinking water often is polluted, and medical
services are insufficient. These conditions contribute to the spread of
disease and epidemics. The use of torture and mistreatment in prisons
continues to be common.
In August the Public Prosecutor ordered his subordinates to
visit prisons under their jurisdiction randomly at least once a month. He also
instructed them to inspect prison records and to investigate complaints raised
by prisoners. Inspections began after the announcement.
Relatives and lawyers often are unable to obtain access to
prisons for visits. Prisons in Abu Zaabal, Tora, and Al-Fayoum remain closed
to visits. In response to 10 separate cases filed by the Human Rights Center
for the Assistance of Prisoners, an administrative court issued 10 rulings on
December 14, directing the Interior Ministry to open the Tora prison to
visits. The Center has filed 33 additional cases within the past 2 years
requesting visits to other closed prisons. These cases are pending before the
court. However, human rights groups report that visits have been refused at
several prisons. At others restrictions have been placed on visits to
prisoners incarcerated for political or terrorist crimes, limiting the number
of visits allowed each prisoner, and the total number of visitors allowed in
the prison at any one time.
In principle human rights monitors are allowed to visit
prisoners in their capacity as legal counsel; however, in practice they often
face considerable bureaucratic obstacles that prevent them from meeting with
prisoners. The Government does not permit the International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC) to visit prisons.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
As part of the Government's antiterrorist campaign,
security forces conducted mass arrests and detained hundreds of individuals
without charge. Police also at times arbitrarily arrested and detained
persons. Under the provisions of the Emergency Law, which has been in effect
since 1981, the police may obtain an arrest warrant from the Ministry of
Interior upon showing that an individual poses a danger to security and public
order. This procedure nullifies the constitutional requirement of showing that
an individual likely has committed a specific crime to obtain a warrant from a
judge or prosecutor.
The Emergency Law allows authorities to detain an
individual without charge. After 30 days, a detainee has the right to demand a
court hearing to challenge the legality of the detention order and may
resubmit his motion for a hearing at 1-month intervals thereafter. There is no
maximum limit to the length of detention if the judge continues to uphold the
legality of the detention order, or if the detainee fails to exercise his
right to a hearing.
In addition to the Emergency Law, the Penal Code also gives
the State broad detention powers. Under the Penal Code, prosecutors must bring
charges within 48 hours or release the suspect. However, they may detain a
suspect for a maximum of 6 months, pending investigation. Arrests under the
Penal Code occur openly and with warrants issued by a district prosecutor or
judge. There is a system of bail. The Penal Code contains several provisions
to combat extremist violence. These provisions broadly define terrorism to
include the acts of "spreading panic" and "obstructing the work
During the year, security forces and police arrested at
least 249 persons allegedly associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, an
Islamist opposition organization. In August security forces arrested about 2
dozen students at Cairo and Zagazig Universities who were suspected of Muslim
Brotherhood membership. The EOHR alleged that the security forces harass
politically affiliated students at the beginning of each academic year (see
Section 2.a.). In October and November, security forces arrested 26 alleged
members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Delta region and 8 in Minya. Four
more suspected members were arrested in Qena in December. An unknown number of
Muslim Brotherhood members who were arrested during the year reportedly were
On October 20, security forces arrested and detained 20
professional leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and accused them of membership
in an illegal group and incitement against the Government. The Government
referred the case to the military courts. The first hearing was held on
December 25 and the next was scheduled for January 12, 2000. The arrests and
trial before the military courts coincided with preparations for elections to
the boards of professional syndicates and to the People's Assembly (see
In January Mahmoud Mohamed was arrested and detained for
more than 30 days by security forces after he sent a telegram to President
Mubarak asserting that he would not support Mubarak in the presidential
referendum held in September. After the media publicized the story, Mubarak
ordered Mohamed's release.
In March six members of the Tagammu opposition party were
arrested by security forces, following a meeting in Cairo, for possessing
pamphlets that criticized the draft labor law. Three of the six were released
immediately; the other three were questioned and released after they paid bail
(see Sections 2.a. and 6.a.). Also in March, Fathy Abu Al-Ezz was detained
briefly for publishing an article in a company newspaper that explained why he
would not vote for President Mubarak (see Section 2.a.). In October state
security forces arrested Fathy Al-Masri and detained him for over 15 days for
possessing a pamphlet that criticized the prohibition of medical services in a
nonemergency situation by a hide tanning company. He was released in November
(see Sections 2.a. and 6.e.).
There were a few unconfirmed reports that several converts
to Christianity were subjected to harassment by the security services,
including temporary detention (see Section 2.c.).
Human rights groups reported that hundreds, and according
to one report, thousands, of persons detained under the Emergency Law have
been incarcerated for several years without charge. The courts have ordered
the release of several of these detainees, but prison officials reportedly
have ignored the orders. The Ministry of Interior frequently reissues
detention orders to return detainees to prison. In April the Ministry of
Interior reported that it had released 1,200 political detainees described as
"repentant extremists." This group included persons who had served
their sentences but had remained in detention, and persons who had never been
charged or tried. The release brought the total number of detainees released
in the past 2 years to more than 6,000. Following the releases, revised prison
population estimates indicate that there are 10,000 prisoners who are
registered and serving sentences and approximately 12,000 political detainees.
The Government does not use forced exile.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The judiciary is independent; however, cases involving
national security or terrorism may be handled by military or State Security
Emergency courts, in which constitutional protections may not be observed. The
Constitution provides for the independence and immunity of judges and forbids
interference by other authorities in the exercise of their judicial functions.
The President appoints all judges upon recommendation of the Higher Judicial
Council, a constitutional body composed of senior judges and chaired by the
president of the Court of Cassation. The Council regulates judicial promotions
and transfers. In the last few years, the Government has added lectures on
human rights and other social issues to its training courses for prosecutors
There are three levels of regular criminal courts: Primary
courts, appeals courts, and the Court of Cassation, which represents the final
stage of criminal appeal.
The judicial system is based on the Napoleonic tradition;
hence, there are no juries. Misdemeanors that are punishable by imprisonment
are heard at the first level by one judge and at the second level by three
judges. Felonies that are punishable by imprisonment or execution are heard in
criminal court by three judges. Appeals of rulings are heard by the Court of
A lawyer is appointed at the court's expense if the
defendant does not have one. The appointment of lawyers is based on a roster
chosen by the bar association; however, expenses are incurred by the State.
Any denial of this right is grounds for appeal of the ruling. However,
detainees in certain high security prisons alleged that they were denied
access to counsel or that such access was delayed until trial, thus denying
counsel the time to prepare an adequate defense. A woman's testimony is equal
to that of a man's in court. There is no legal prohibition against a woman
serving as a judge, although in practice no women serve as judges (see Section
Defense lawyers generally agree that the regular judiciary
respects the rights of the accused and exercises its independence. In the
past, criminal court judges have dismissed cases in which confessions were
obtained by coercion. However, while the judiciary generally is credited with
conducting fair trials, under the Emergency Law, cases involving terrorism and
national security may be tried in military or State Security Emergency courts,
in which the accused do not receive all the constitutional protections of the
civilian judicial system.
In 1992 following a rise in extremist violence, the
Government began trying cases of persons accused of terrorism and membership
in terrorist groups before military tribunals. In 1993 the Supreme
Constitutional Court ruled that the President may invoke the Emergency Law to
refer any crime to a military court. This use of military and State Security
Emergency courts under the Emergency Law has deprived hundreds of civilian
defendants of their constitutional right to be tried by a civilian judge.
The Government defends the use of military courts as
necessary in terrorism cases, maintaining that trials in the civilian courts
are protracted and that civilian judges and their families are vulnerable to
terrorist threats. Some civilian judges have confirmed their fear of trying
high visibility terrorism cases because of possible reprisal. The Government
claims that civilian defendants receive fair trials in the military courts and
enjoy the same rights as defendants in civilian courts.
However, the military courts do not ensure civilian
defendants due process before an independent tribunal. While military judges
are lawyers, they are also military officers appointed by the Minister of
Defense and subject to military discipline. They are not as independent or as
qualified as civilian judges in applying the civilian Penal Code. There is no
appellate process for verdicts issued by military courts; instead, verdicts
are subject to a review by other military judges and confirmation by the
President, who in practice usually delegates the review function to a senior
military officer. Defense attorneys have complained that they have not been
given sufficient time to prepare defenses and that judges tend to rush cases
involving a large number of defendants.
During the year, the Government referred three groups of
civilian defendants to the military courts. A military court tried 107
suspected members of the Jihad group in Egypt. Of these defendants, known as
the "Returnees from Albania," 60 were tried in absentia. On April 18
the court sentenced nine defendants to death; all nine were tried in absentia
and are believed to reside outside of Egypt. The court also sentenced 11 to
life imprisonment at hard labor and 67 to prison sentences ranging from 1 to
15 years. The court acquitted 20 defendants. In the second case, a military
court tried 21 suspected members of the Islamic Group in Egypt. On June 17,
the court sentenced 1 defendant to life imprisonment, and 19 defendants to
prison sentences ranging from 5 to 25 years. One defendant was acquitted. On
October 27, the state security prosecutor announced that a third case
involving 20 professional leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood would be referred
to a military court. The Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested on October
20 and charged with belonging to an illegal group. The first hearing was held
on December 25 and the next was scheduled for January 12, 2000. The arrests
and trial before the military courts coincided with preparations for elections
to the boards of professional syndicates and to the People's Assembly (see
The State Security Emergency courts share jurisdiction with
military courts over crimes affecting national security. The President
appoints judges to these courts from the civilian judiciary upon the
recommendation of the Minister of Justice and, if he chooses to appoint
military judges, the Minister of Defense. Sentences are subject to
confirmation by the President but may not be appealed. The President may alter
or annul a decision of a State Security Emergency court, including a decision
to release a defendant.
On March 8, the State Security Emergency courts issued
judgments in 2 cases involving 26 defendants who were charged with terrorist
acts. One case involved 24 members of the Islamic Group; the second involved 2
members of the group known as "Redeemed from Hell." A third trial,
involving 14 Islamic Group members before a State Security Emergency court,
began in July, resumed December 17, then was postponed until February 2000.
According to press reports, in October a State Security Emergency court began
the trial of four members of a terrorist group from the upper (southern) city
of Dairout who were accused of murder and attempted murder of policemen and
Christians in the early 1990's. The trial was postponed until December, then
again until February 28, 2000. There was no information available about the
identities of the defendants and the specific charges against them (see
Sections 1.a. and 5).
There are no reliable statistics on the numbers of
political prisoners, but the total may approach 100; observers estimate that
the number of political detainees may be in the thousands (see Section 1.d.).
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
The Constitution provides for the sanctity and secrecy of
homes, correspondence, telephone calls, and other means of communication;
however, the Government used the Emergency Law to infringe on these rights.
Police must obtain warrants before undertaking searches and wiretaps. Courts
have dismissed cases in which warrants were issued without sufficient cause.
Police officers who conduct searches without proper warrants are subject to
criminal penalties, although penalties seldom are imposed. However, the
Emergency Law abridges the constitutional provisions regarding the right to
privacy. The Emergency Law empowers the Government to place wiretaps,
intercept mail, and search persons or places without warrants. Security
agencies frequently place political activists, suspected subversives,
journalists, foreigners, and writers under surveillance, screen their
correspondence (especially international mail), search them and their homes,
and confiscate personal property.
The Ministry of Interior has the authority to stop specific
issues of foreign-published newspapers from entering the country on the
grounds of protecting public order; it exercises this authority sporadically
(also see Section 2.a.).
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the
press; however, the Government partially restricts these rights. Citizens
openly speak their views on a wide range of political and social issues,
including vigorous criticism of the Government.
The Government owns stock in the three largest daily
newspapers, and the President appoints their editors-in-chief. Although these
newspapers generally follow the government line, they frequently criticize
government policies. The Government also enjoys a monopoly on the printing and
distribution of newspapers, including those of the opposition parties. The
Government used its monopolistic control of newsprint to limit the output of
opposition publications. The newspaper Al-Dustur, which in 1998 lost its
government permission to print, ceased to exist.
Opposition political parties publish their own newspapers
but receive a subsidy from the Government and, in some cases, subsidies from
foreign interests as well. Most newspapers are weeklies, with the exception of
the dailies Al-Wafd, Al-Araby, and Al-Ahrar, and the semiweekly of the
Islamist-oriented Socialist Labor Party, Al-Shaab. All have small
circulations. Opposition newspapers frequently publish criticism of the
Government. They also give greater prominence to human rights abuses than the
state-run newspapers. All party newspapers are required by law to reflect the
platform of their party. In September the Government rejected a request by the
Arab Egypt Socialist opposition party to reissue the party newspaper, Misr.
The Government cited the party's failure to publish the newspaper
The Constitution restricts ownership of newspapers to
public or private legal entities, corporate bodies, and political parties.
There are numerous restrictions on legal entities that seek to establish their
own newspapers, including a maximum of 10 percent on individual ownership. In
January 1998, the People's Assembly approved a law that requires newspapers
managed by joint stock companies to obtain the approval of the Prime Minister
prior to publishing. Given government restrictions, a joint stock company is
the only feasible incorporation option for publishers. In February the
Government revoked the license of the newspaper Sawt Al-Umma, citing the
publisher's violations of joint stock company regulations. In July a publisher
contested before an administrative court the Prime Minister's refusal to act
on his request for approval of a joint stock company formed to publish the
newspaper Al-Karama. Also in July, a higher court upheld a lower court's
decision to withdraw a license from the publisher of Al-Siyasa, ruling that
the publisher is a limited liability company, not a joint stock company.
The Press Law, the Publications Law, and the Penal Code
govern press issues. The Penal Code stipulate fines or imprisonment for
criticism of the President, members of the Government, and foreign heads of
state. The Supreme Constitutional Court agreed in November 1998 to review the
constitutionality of those articles of the Penal Code that specify
imprisonment as a penalty for journalists convicted of libel. The case is
pending. In October the Public Prosecutor charged editor Mohamed Hassan Al-Banna
and journalist Fouad Fawaz of the weekly newspaper Al-Khamis with insulting
Libya's leader, Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi. A court date has not yet been set.
Because of the difficulties in obtaining a license in
Egypt, several publishers of newspapers and magazines developed for the
Egyptian market have obtained a foreign license. Most of these publications
are printed in the free trade zone. Those newspapers and magazines published
under a foreign license may be distributed with government permission.
However, the Department of Censorship in the Ministry of Information has the
authority to censor or halt distribution of publications printed in the free
trade zone under a foreign license. During the year, the Ministry censored
several articles of the English-language weekly, the Middle East Times. The
Government continues to refuse to grant a visa to the weekly's publisher,
Thomas Cromwell, but cited reasons unrelated to his position as a journalist
for the action. The Ministry also prohibited distribution of one edition of
the English-language biweekly, the Cairo Times. During the year the Center for
Human Rights and Legal Assistance organized a legal challenge to the
constitutionality of the Information Ministry's censorship of these
publications. The Supreme Constitutional Court has agreed to hear the case,
but had not yet set a court date by year's end.
The Press and Publication Laws ostensibly provide
protection against malicious rumor-mongering and unsubstantiated reporting.
Financial penalties were increased substantially in 1996 when relevant
provisions of the Penal Code were revised, but the judicial process remains
long and costly, creating a bar to realistic legal recourse for those wrongly
defamed. In recent years, opposition party newspapers have, within limits,
published articles critical of the President and foreign heads of state
without being charged or harassed. The Government continues to charge
journalists with libel.
In 1996 the People's Assembly approved a revised Press Law
following criticism of a more restrictive revision that had been approved in
1995. The People's Assembly also revised certain articles in the Penal Code
pertaining to libel and slander. In addition in 1997 the supreme
Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional Article 195 of the Penal Code
under which an editor in chief could have been considered criminally
responsible for libel contained in any portion of the newspaper. The Court
ruled that the correct standard of responsibility should be
"negligence." This lesser standard subsequently was applied by the
In August a criminal court convicted three journalists from
the opposition daily newspaper Al-Shaab of libeling Youssef Wally, Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture. Editor in chief Magdy Hussein,
reporter Salah Bedewi, and cartoonist Essam Hanafi were sentenced on August 14
to 2 years in prison and each fined $6,000 (20,000 Egyptian pounds). A fourth
Al-Shaab journalist, Adel Hussein, was convicted of libel and fined the same
amount. On December 5, the Court of Cassation ordered a retrial of the case
before a different circuit of the criminal court. The sentences against all
four were suspended and, on December 6, the Public Prosecutor ordered the
release of the three detained defendants. The date for the new trial was not
set by year's end.
The courts acquitted seven journalists in six cases during
the year. In three cases involving four journalists, the courts fined each
$3,000 (10,000 Egyptian pounds). In September journalist Ashraf Ayoub of the
Ahali weekly newspaper was sentenced in absentia for libel to 1 year's
imprisonment. Ayoub's defense is appealing the conviction.
According to statistics compiled by the EOHR during the
year, and covering the period from the enactment of the 1996 Press Law through
July, the Public Prosecutor has referred 117 cases to a court of misdemeanors,
55 cases to a criminal court, and 3 cases to a military court. Of these, 52
are pending. Of those adjudicated, 4 resulted in prison sentences.
On occasion, based on authority granted to him by law, the
Public Prosecutor may issue a temporary ban on the publication of news
pertaining to cases involving national security and order so as to protect the
confidentiality of the cases. The length of the ban is based on the length of
time required for the prosecution to prepare its case. In May the Public
Prosecutor banned publication of news related to the case of an employee of
the Ministry of Culture accused of embezzlement and corruption. The Public
Prosecutor also temporarily banned news related to an investigation of vice
among movie actresses.
On April 7, the People's Assembly approved several
restrictive amendments to the Law of Public Mobilization, which was enacted in
1960. The amendments increase the penalties applicable to individuals who
disclose information about the State during emergencies, including war and
natural disasters. The new penalties include fines up to $1,700 (6,000
Egyptian pounds) and prison sentences up to 3 years. The EOHR characterized
the change as an additional obstacle to freedom of information.
In 1998 the People's Assembly approved a law that prohibits
current or former members of the police from publishing work-related
information without prior permission from the Interior Minister.
In March Fathy Abu Al-Ezz was detained by state security
following publication in a company newsletter of an article written by Abu Al-Ezz
that explained why he would not vote for President Mubarak in the presidential
referendum held in September. He was released after paying bail in the amount
of $60 (200 Egyptian pounds).
In December 1998, a state security prosecutor charged EOHR
secretary-general Hafez Abu Se'da and EOHR attorney Mustafa Zidane with
violating Article 102 of the Penal Code, which relates to deliberate
dissemination of false information or inflammatory propaganda that harms
public security or public interests. The charges were based on an EOHR report
that was critical of police conduct during a 1998 murder investigation in
Sohag. Abu Se'da also was charged with accepting foreign funds without
government permission. The state security prosecutor alleged that the EOHR had
accepted $25,000 from the British Embassy in Cairo to publish the critical
report. In fact, the money was provided by the British Embassy on behalf of
the Human Rights Committee in the British House of Commons to support a
women's legal aid project begun in 1995. The British Government had been
supporting this EOHR project since 1996. On December 25 and 26, the state
security prosecutor questioned EOHR chairman Abdel Aziz Mohamed about the
organization's use of the British money. The outstanding charges against Abu
Se'da and Zidane have not been dropped (see Sections 1.d., 2.c., and 4).
Various ministries legally are authorized to ban or
confiscate books and other works of art upon obtaining a court order. The
Islamic Research Center at Al-Azhar University has legal authority to censor,
but not to confiscate, all publications dealing with the Koran and Islamic
scriptural texts. In recent years the Center has passed judgment on the
suitability of nonreligious books and artistic productions. During the year,
the Center ruled in favor of distribution of the book "My Father Adam:
The Story of the Creation Between Legend and Reality," written by Abdel
Sabour Shahine. However, an Islamist lawyer sued the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and
several other senior Islamic figures in an effort to block publication of the
book. The trial was set for January 20, 2000.
The Ministry of Information owns and operates all domestic
television and radio stations. The Government refuses to license private
broadcast stations or to privatize the State's broadcast media. In addition to
public television, the Government also offers several pay-for-view television
channels. Government control and censorship of the broadcast media is
In 1995 an administrative court ruled that the sole
authority to prohibit publication or distribution of books and other works of
art resides with the Ministry of Culture. This decision invalidated a 1994
advisory opinion by a judiciary council that had expanded Al-Azhar's
censorship authority to include visual and audio artistic works. The same
year, President Mubarak stated that the Government would not allow
confiscation of books from the market without a court order, a position
supported by the then-Mufti of the Republic, who is now the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar.
There were no court-ordered confiscations during the year.
An appeal to the Court of Cassation by author Ala'a Hamed is pending. Hamed
previously was convicted for the alleged pornographic content of his book
The Ministry of Interior regularly confiscates leaflets and
other works by Muslim fundamentalists and other critics of the State. In March
six members of the Tagammu opposition party were arrested by security forces
following a meeting in Cairo to discuss opposition to draft labor legislation.
They were charged with possessing publications that disturb public order and
security. (They were carrying pamphlets criticizing the draft labor law.)
Three of the six members were released immediately. The other three were
questioned and released following payment of bail in the amount of $170 (500
Egyptian pounds) each (see Sections 1.d. and 6.b.). In October security forces
detained Fathy Al-Masri for over 15 days for possession of a pamphlet called
"The Right to Medical Services in a Nonemergency Situation." He was
charged with possessing publications that disturb public order and security.
Al-Masri was protesting the medical policy of a private company. He was
released in November (see Sections 1.d. and 6.e.).
The Ministry of Interior also has the authority, which it
exercises sporadically, to stop specific issues of foreign-published
newspapers from entering the country on the grounds of protecting public order
(also see Section 1.f.). The Ministry of Defense may ban works about sensitive
security issues. The Council of Ministers may order the banning of works that
it deems offensive to public morals, detrimental to religion, or likely to
cause a breach of the peace.
Plays and films must pass Ministry of Culture censorship
tests as scripts and as final productions. However, many plays and films that
are highly critical of the Government and its policies are not censored. The
Ministry of Culture also censors foreign films that are to be shown in
theaters, but it is more lenient when the same films are released in video
cassette format. Government censors ensure that foreign films made in Egypt
portray the country in a favorable light. Censors review scripts before
filming, are present during filming, and have the right to review the film
before it is sent out of the country.
An appeals court is scheduled to review in February 2000
the case against the film "Birds of Darkness." The plaintiffs charge
that it is insulting to lawyers. Two related cases against the movie were
dropped in 1997.
Moderate Muslims and secularist writers still are subject
to legal action by Islamic extremists. Cairo University professor Nasr Abu
Zeid and his wife continue to live abroad following the 1996 Court of
Cassation ruling that affirmed lower-court judgments that Abu Zeid is an
apostate because of his controversial interpretation of Koranic teachings.
However, the Supreme Constitutional Court agreed in 1998 to review the
constitutionality of the 1996 ruling. No court date had been set by year's
end. The definition of appropriate books for class use, library use, or sale
in the university bookstore continued to be debated at the American University
The Government does not restrict directly academic freedom
at universities. However, some university professors claim that the Government
tightened its control over universities in 1994 by a law authorizing
university presidents to appoint the deans of the various faculties. Under the
previous law, faculty deans were elected by their peers. The Government has
justified the measure as a means to combat Islamist influence on campus. The
EOHR alleged that security forces harass politically affiliated students at
the beginning of each academic year.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Government significantly restricts freedom of assembly.
Under a 1923 law, citizens must obtain approval from the Ministry of Interior
before holding public meetings, rallies, and protest marches. The Interior
Ministry selectively obstructs meetings scheduled to be held on private
property and university campuses (also see Section 4).
During the year the Government prohibited the Cairo
Institute for Human Rights from holding a conference on the subject of human
rights in the Arab world. The Government also prohibited the Association for
the Independence of the Judiciary from holding a conference on the subject of
the future of the judiciary in the Arab world (see Section 4).
The Government significantly restricts freedom of
association. In June the Government approved a new law pertaining to the
formation, function, and funding of nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) and
private foundations. On November 28, the Minister of Social Affairs issued the
executive regulations to the law, and asserted that the regulations reflect
the Government's commitment to support civil society. The regulations, which
are to govern implementation of the law, specify a wide range of permissible
NGO activities, including in the area of human rights. They also facilitate
registration of NGO's and the receipt of financial donations. However, critics
charge that the law and regulations place unduly burdensome restrictions on
NGO's. Observers claim that it is too soon to assess the implementation of the
law and its impact on NGO's.
Since 1985 the Government has refused to license the
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and the Arab Organization for Human
Rights (AOHR) on grounds that they are political organizations. Nevertheless,
in general both continue to operate openly (see Section 4). Following approval
of the new NGO law, the Government stated that it would award a license to the
EOHR. By year's end, the EOHR had not applied for status as an NGO under the
new law. Under 1993 legislation on professional syndicates, an association
must elect its governing board by at least 50 percent of its general
membership. Failing a quorum, a second election must be held in which at least
30 percent of the membership votes for the board. If such a quorum is
impossible, the judiciary may appoint a caretaker board until new elections
can be set. The law was adopted to prevent well-organized minorities,
specifically Islamists, from capturing or retaining the leadership of
professional syndicates. Members of these syndicates have reported that
Islamists have used irregular electoral techniques such as physically blocking
polling places and limiting or changing the location of polling sites. In
October the Court of Cassation upheld an earlier court decision to lift the
government sequestration of the bar syndicate.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of belief and the
practice of religious rites; however, the Government places clear restrictions
on this right. Most Egyptians are Sunni Muslims. Approximately 10 percent of
the population, numbering more than 6 million persons, belong to the Coptic
Orthodox Church. There are other small Christian denominations, as well as a
Jewish community that numbers approximately 200 persons. For the most part,
members of the non-Muslim minority worship without harassment and maintain
links with coreligionists abroad.
Under the Constitution, Islam is the official state
religion and primary source of legislation. Accordingly, religious practices
that conflict with Islamic law are prohibited. In most matters of family law,
including marriage, divorce, alimony, and child custody, Christians are
subject to canon law. In cases of family law disputes involving a marriage
between a Christian woman and a Muslim man, Islamic law applies. The children
of such marriages must be raised as Muslims. Muslim women are prohibited from
marrying Christian men.
While neither the Constitution nor the Civil and Penal
Codes prohibit proselytizing, Christians who proselytize have been arrested on
charges of violating Article 98f of the Penal Code, which prohibits citizens
from ridiculing or insulting heavenly religions or inciting sectarian strife.
There were no such reports during the year; however, one Christian who was
engaged in proselytizing activities was detained briefly by state security
forces. Some Christians complained that the Government is lax in protecting
Christian lives and property (see Section 5).
There are no legal restrictions on the conversion of
non-Muslims to Islam. However, Muslims may face legal problems if they convert
to another faith. In the past, authorities have charged a few Muslim converts
to Christianity under article 98f of the Penal Code. There were no reports of
such arrests during the year; however, there were a few unconfirmed reports
that several converts to Christianity were subjected to harassment by the
security services, including temporary detention.
In other cases involving conversion from Islam to
Christianity, authorities have charged converts with violating laws
prohibiting the falsification of documents. In such instances, converts, who
fear government harassment if they officially register the change from Islam
to Christianity, have altered their identification cards and other official
documents themselves to reflect their new religious affiliation. There were no
confirmed reports of individuals detained or charged under these laws during
the year. In 1997 human rights activist Mamdouh Naklah filed suit seeking
removal of the religious affiliation category from identification cards. The
court referred the case to the state commissioner's office, which has not yet
issued an opinion.
An 1856 Ottoman decree still in force requires non-Muslims
to obtain what is now a presidential decree to build a place of worship. In
addition, Interior Ministry regulations issued in 1934 specify a set of 10
conditions that the Government must consider prior to issuance of a
presidential decree permitting construction of a church. These conditions
include the location of the proposed site, the religious composition of the
surrounding community, and the proximity of other churches. The Ottoman decree
also requires the President to approve permits for the repair of church
facilities. In response to strong criticism of the decree, President Mubarak
in 1998 delegated to governors the authority to approve permits for the repair
of church facilities. In December the President acted again and issued a new
decree that made the repair of all places of worship subject to a 1976 civil
construction code. This decree, which superseded the decree issued in 1998, is
significant because it places churches and mosques on equal footing before the
law, and in intended to facilitate church repairs. However, notwithstanding
these initiatives, the approval process for church construction and repair
remains time-consuming and insufficiently responsive to the wishes of the
Christian community. Although President Mubarak has approved all requests for
permits that have been presented to him (reportedly a total of more than 250
during his 18-year tenure), Christians maintain that the Interior Ministry
delays--in some instances indefinitely--submission to the President of their
requests. They also maintain that security forces have blocked them from
utilizing permits that have been issued.
During the 1990's, the Government increased the number of
building permits issued to Christian communities to an average of more than 20
per year, compared with an average of 5 permits issued annually in the 1980's.
During the year, the Government approved 39 permits for church-related
construction, including 2 permits for the construction of a new church, 34
permits for churches previously constructed without authorization, and 3
permits for the construction of additional church facilities. The Government
reported that governors issued more than 200 permits for church-related repair
during the year. However, the Government was unable to provide a breakdown by
governorate; unofficial reports from the governorates vary. In January 1996,
human rights activist Mamdouh Naklah filed suit challenging the
constitutionality of the Ottoman decree. In 1998 an administrative court
referred Naklah's case to a state body of legal experts. This decision was
considered a setback, as the body is not required to issue an opinion
expeditiously and its opinions are not binding. The body had not issued an
opinion in the case by year's end. As a result of these restrictions, some
communities use private buildings and apartments for religious services.
In 1952 the Government seized approximately 1,500 acres of
land from the Coptic Orthodox Church and transferred title to the Ministry of
Awqaf, which is responsible for administering religious trusts. In 1996 Awqaf
Minister Hamdy Zaqzouq established a committee to address the issue. Based on
the committee's recommendations, more than 800 acres have been returned to the
Church since 1996. The committee continues to study the return of the
remaining disputed property.
The Government continued its efforts to extend legal
controls to all mosques, which by law must be licensed. The Government
appoints and pays the salaries of the imams who officiate in mosques, and
proposes themes for and monitors sermons. In September the Awqaf minister
announced that the Government now controls 46,000 mosques and 12,000 zawaya
("corner" mosques, or mosques located within a multipurpose
building). In an effort to combat Islamic extremists, the Government has
announced its intention to bring all unauthorized mosques under its control by
2000. There are an estimated 70,000 mosques.
In July a state security court in Alexandria convicted 14
persons of heresy against Islam. The lead defendant, Mohamed Ibrahim Mahfouz,
was sentenced to 5 years in prison for claiming that he speaks directly to God
and is at times transformed into God or the Prophet Mohamed. Seven of his
followers were sentenced to 3 years in prison. Six of his followers were
sentenced to 1 year in prison. Five other defendants were acquitted.
On November 11, the state security prosecutor arrested 50
persons in Cairo suspected of heresy against Islam. On November 15, the state
security prosecutor released 30 of the detainees and is investigating charges
of heresy against Islam and insulting Islam against the remaining 20. The lead
defendant, a woman named Manal Wahid Mana'a, is accused of attempting to
establish a new Islamic sect. She claims that the Prophet Mohamed speaks to
In August the Public Prosecutor reopened and expanded an
investigation into police torture of mostly Christian detainees that took
place during a 1998 police investigation of a double murder in the largely
Coptic village of Al-Kush in Sohag governorate. The trial of Shayboub William
Arsal, the man accused of murdering two Al-Kush residents in August 1998,
began during the year. A court conducted hearings on the case on December 4
and 6. The next hearing was scheduled for January 2000. Related charges of
witness tampering raised by the public prosecution in 1998 against Bishop Wisa
and Arch-Priest Antonius have not been dropped.
In 1960 Baha'i institutions and community activities were
banned by presidential decree and all community properties, including Baha'i
centers, libraries, and cemeteries, were confiscated. The ban on Baha'i
institutions has never been rescinded.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel,
Emigration, and Repatriation
Citizens and foreigners are free to travel within Egypt
except in certain military areas. Males who have not completed compulsory
military service may not travel abroad or emigrate, although this restriction
may be deferred or bypassed. Unmarried women under the age of 21 must have
permission from their fathers to obtain passports and travel; married women
require the same permission from their husbands. Citizens who leave the
country have the right to return.
The Constitution provides for the grant of political asylum
and prohibits the extradition of political refugees. There were no reports of
the forced return of persons to a country where they feared persecution. Egypt
grants first asylum for humanitarian reasons or in the event of internal
turmoil in neighboring countries. The Government cooperates with the office of
the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Asylum seekers generally are
screened by UNHCR representatives, whose recommendations regarding settlement
are forwarded to the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs for final
determination. The Government permits accepted refugees to live and work in
Egypt, but not to acquire citizenship, except in rare cases. During the year,
the Government accepted approximately 6,400 persons, including more than 2,500
Somalis and 2,400 Sudanese. Although there is no pattern of abuse of refugees,
the Government temporarily detained during random security sweeps some
refugees who earlier had been accorded protection status. Following
intervention by the UNHCR, the refugees were released.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of
Citizens to Change Their Government
The ruling National Democratic Party dominates the 454-seat
People's Assembly, the Shura Council, local governments, the mass media,
labor, the large public sector, and controls the licensing of new political
parties, newspapers, and private organizations to such an extent that, as a
practical matter, citizens do not have a meaningful ability to change their
In September President Hosni Mubarak was elected unopposed
to a fourth 6-year term in a national referendum. According to official
results he received 94 percent of the vote. The referendum followed the
constitutionally-mandated nomination by the People's Assembly. Under the
Constitution, the electorate is not presented with a choice among competing
More than 100 losing candidates in the fall 1995
legislative elections filed complaints in the administrative courts, alleging
ballot-rigging and other irregularities. The courts agreed with most of these
claims. Although the judiciary has the authority to determine whether or not
irregularities took place, it does not have the authority to remove an elected
member of the People's Assembly, a right that the Assembly claims solely for
itself, citing the concept of parliamentary sovereignty. The Assembly did not
call for any new by-elections in response to the courts' judgments.
The People's Assembly debates government proposals, and
members exercise their authority to call cabinet ministers to explain policy.
The executive initiates almost all legislation. Nevertheless, the Assembly
maintains the authority to challenge or restrain the executive in the areas of
economic and social policy, but it may not modify the budget except with the
Government's approval. The Assembly exercises limited influence in the areas
of security and foreign policy, and retains little oversight of the Interior
Ministry's use of Emergency Law powers. Many executive branch initiatives and
policies are carried out by regulation through ministerial decree without
legislative oversight. The military budget is prepared by the executive and
not debated publicly. Roll-call votes in the Assembly are rare. Votes
generally are reported in aggregate terms of yeas and nays, and thus
constituents have no independent method of checking a member's voting record.
The Shura Council, the upper chamber of Parliament, has 264
members. Two-thirds of the members are elected popularly and one-third are
appointed by the President. One half of the Shura seats are up for reelection
or reappointment every 3 years. In 1998 the NDP won all 88 seats up for
election. One Coptic Christian, from Alexandria, won a seat. The President
made 47 appointments (including an additional 3 over the 44 open seats to
replace deceased members). Those appointed included nine women, eight Coptic
Christians, and two members of opposition parties.
There are 13 recognized opposition parties. The law
empowers the Government to bring felony charges against those who form a party
without a license. New parties must be approved by the Parties Committee, a
semiofficial body that includes a substantial majority of members from the
ruling NDP and some members from among the independent and opposition parties.
Decisions of the Parties Committee may be appealed to the civil courts. During
the year the Committee refused the applications of three parties. These
rejected parties filed an appeal of the Committee's decision. Three other
applications are pending before the committee. During the year, a court
rejected six of eight pending appeals by parties whose applications previously
were denied, including the appeal of the Egyptian Wasat party. Two appeals
still are pending.
According to the law, which prohibits political parties
based on religion, the Muslim Brotherhood is an illegal political
organization. Muslim Brothers are known publicly and openly speak their views,
although they do not explicitly identify themselves as members of the
organization. They remain subject to government pressure (see Section 1.d.).
Some have served in the Assembly as independents or as members of other
Women and minorities are underrepresented in government and
politics. The Constitution reserves 10 Assembly seats for presidential
appointees, which the President traditionally has used to assure
representation for women and Coptic Christians. Five women but no Copts were
elected in 1995; of the 10 presidential appointments, 6 were Copts and 4 were
women. The ruling NDP nominated no Coptic candidates in the 1995 parliamentary
elections. Two women and 2 Copts serve among the 32 ministers in the Cabinet.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The Government has refused to license local human rights
groups as private entities under Law 32 of 1964 (see Section 2.b.). Since the
EOHR's establishment in 1986, the Government has refused to license the
organization on the grounds that it is a political organization and duplicates
the activities of an existing, although moribund, human rights group. However,
in June the Government approved a controversial new law pertaining to the
formation, functioning, and funding of nongovernmental organizations and
private foundations (see Section 2.b.). In November the Minister of Social
Affairs issued executive regulations to the new law. These regulations, which
are to guide implementation of the new law, explicitly cite human rights as a
permissible NGO activity. However, critics charge that the law and regulations
place unduly burdensome restrictions on NGO's. The Government also announced
its intention to license the EOHR; however, the EOHR did not apply for status
as an NGO under the new law by year's end.
On December 25 and 26, the state security prosecutor
questioned EOHR chairman Abdel Aziz Mohamed about charges brought by the state
security prosecutor in 1998, following the EOHR's publication of a report
critical of police conduct in the village of Al-Kush in Sohag governorate (see
Sections 1.c., 2.a., and 2.b.). The charges included allegations that Abu
Se'da accepted foreign funds without government permission. The state security
prosecutor alleged that the EOHR had accepted $25,000 from the British Embassy
in Cairo to publish the critical report. In fact, the money was provided by
the British Embassy on behalf of the Human Rights Committee in the British
House of Commons to support a women's legal aid project begun in 1995. The
British Government had been supporting this EOHR project since 1996. The state
security prosecutor has not dropped the outstanding charges against Abu Se'da
and EOHR attorney Mustafa Zidane.
The AOHR, the EOHR's parent organization, has a
longstanding request for registration as a foreign organization with the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry has not approved the request thus
far, stating that the issue is dependent on the outcome of efforts within the
league of Arab states to establish a human rights body.
Despite years of nonrecognition, the EOHR and other groups
sometimes obtain the cooperation of government officials. The Government
allows EOHR field workers to visit prisons in their capacity as legal counsel,
to call on some government officials, and to receive funding from foreign
human rights organizations. However, many local and international human rights
activists have concluded that government restrictions on NGO activities have
inhibited significantly reporting on human rights abuses.
During the year the Government prohibited the Cairo
Institute for Human Rights from holding a conference on the subject of human
rights in the Arab world. The Government also prohibited the Association for
the Independence of the Judiciary from holding a conference on the subject of
the future of the judiciary in the Arab world. On occasion, human rights
organizations have found requests for conference space turned down for
"security reasons" or reservations later canceled for
"maintenance reasons." Other human rights organizations registered
as corporations to avoid the obstacles posed by Law 32 (see Section 2.b.).
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution provides for equality of the sexes and
equal treatment of non-Muslims; however, aspects of the law and many
traditional practices discriminate against women and Christians.
Domestic violence against women is a significant problem
and is reflected in press accounts of specific incidents. According to a
national study conducted in 1995 as part of a comprehensive demographic and
health survey, one of every three women who have ever been married has been
beaten at least once during marriage. Among those who have been beaten, less
than half have ever sought help. Smaller, independent studies confirm that
wife-beating is common. In general, neighbors and extended family members
intervene to limit incidents of domestic violence. Due to the value attached
to privacy in the country's traditional society, abuse within the family
rarely is discussed publicly. Spousal abuse is grounds for a divorce, but the
law requires the plaintiff to produce eyewitnesses, a difficult condition to
meet. Several NGO's offer counseling, legal aid, and other services to women
who are victims of domestic violence. These activists believe that in general
the police and the judiciary consider the "integrity of the family"
more important than the well-being of the woman. The Ministry of Insurance and
Social Affairs runs more than 150 family counseling bureaus nationwide, which
provide legal and medical services.
The punishment for rape ranges from 3 years in prison to
life imprisonment at hard labor, and the Government prosecutes rapists. If a
rapist is convicted of abducting his victim, he is subject to execution;
however, there were no reports of the execution of rapists. During the year,
the Government abolished an article of the Penal Code that permitted a rapist
to be absolved of criminal charges if he married his victim. However, marital
rape is not illegal. Although reliable statistics regarding rape are not
available, activists believe that it is not uncommon, despite strong social
disapproval. When "honor killings" (a man murdering a female
relative for her perceived lack of chastity) occur, perpetrators generally
receive lighter punishments than those convicted in other cases of murder.
Prostitution and sex tourism are illegal, but known to
The law provides for equality of the sexes; however,
aspects of the law and many traditional practices discriminate against women.
By law, unmarried women under the age of 21 must have permission from their
fathers to obtain passports and to travel; married women of any age require
the same permission from their husbands (see Section 2.d.). Only males may
confer citizenship. In rare cases, this means that children who are born to
Egyptian mothers and stateless fathers are themselves stateless. A woman's
testimony is equal to that of a man's in the courts. There is no legal
prohibition against a woman serving as a judge, although in practice no women
serve as judges. The Court of Cassation agreed to hear in January 2000 the
case of attorney Fatma Lashin, who is challenging the Government's refusal to
appoint her as a public prosecutor. (To become a judge, one must first serve
as a public prosecutor.)
Laws affecting marriage and personal status generally
correspond to an individual's religion. A 1979 liberalization of the Family
Status Law, which strengthened a Muslim woman's rights to divorce and child
custody, was repealed in 1985 after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled
that the use of a presidential decree to implement the law was unjustified.
Under Islamic law, non-Muslim males must convert to Islam
to marry Muslim women, but non-Muslim women need not convert to marry Muslim
men. Muslim female heirs receive half the amount of a male heir's inheritance,
while Christian widows of Muslims have no inheritance rights. A sole female
heir receives half her parents' estate; the balance goes to designated male
relatives. A sole male heir inherits all his parents' property. Male Muslim
heirs face strong social pressure to provide for all family members who
require assistance; however, this assistance is not always provided.
Women have employment opportunities in government,
medicine, law, academia, the arts, and, to a lesser degree, business. Labor
laws provide for equal rates of pay for equal work for men and women in the
public sector. According to government figures, women constitute 17 percent of
private business owners and occupy 25 percent of the managerial positions in
the four major national banks. Social pressure against women pursuing a career
is strong, and some women's rights advocates say that a resurgent Islamic
fundamentalist trend limits further gains. Women's rights advocates also point
to other discriminatory traditional or cultural attitudes and practices such
as female genital mutilation and the traditional male relative's role in
enforcing chastity and chaste sexual conduct.
A number of active women's rights groups work in diverse
areas, including reforming family law, educating women on their legal rights,
promoting literacy, and combating FGM.
The Government remains committed to the protection of
children's welfare within the limits of its budgetary resources. Many of the
resources for children's welfare are provided by international donors,
especially in the field of child immunization. Child labor is widespread,
despite the Government's commitment to eradicate it (see Section 6.d.).
The Government provides public education, which is
compulsory for the first 8 academic years (typically until the age of 15). The
Government treats boys and girls equally at all levels of education.
The Government enacted a Child Law in 1996. The law
provides for privileges, protection, and care for children in general. Six of
the law's 144 articles set advantageous rules for working children (see
Section 6.d.). Other provisions include: A requirement for employers to set up
or contract with a child care center if they employ more than 100 women; the
right of rehabilitation for disabled children; a prohibition on sentencing
defendants between the ages of 16 and 18 to capital punishment, hard labor for
life, or temporary hard labor; and a prohibition on placing defendants under
the age of 15 in preventive custody, although the prosecution may order that
they be lodged in an "observation house" and be summoned upon
The Government remains committed to eradicating the
practice of female genital mutilation, which is widely condemned by
international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological
health. Despite strong government and community efforts to eradicate FGM,
government and private sources agree that it is common. Traditional and family
pressures remain strong; a study conducted in 1995 places the percentage of
women who have ever been married who have undergone FGM at 97 percent. In
February the Population Council released the results of a 1997 survey of
Egyptian adolescents, which found that 86 percent of girls between the ages of
13 and 19 had undergone FGM. FGM generally is performed on girls between the
ages of 7 and 10, with equal prevalence among Muslims and Christians.
The Court of Cassation issued a decision in 1997 that
upheld the legality of the decree banning FGM issued in 1996 by the Minister
of Health and Population Planning. In addition to enforcing the decree, the
Government supports a range of efforts to educate the public. A discussion of
FGM and its dangers has been added to the curriculum of the school system. The
Government broadcasts television programs criticizing the practice. Government
ministers are outspoken in advising citizens to cease the practice, and senior
religious leaders also support efforts to stop it. The Sheikh of Al-Azhar, the
most senior Islamic figure in the country, and the leader of the Coptic
Christian community, Pope Shenouda, have stated repeatedly that FGM is not
required by religious doctrine. However, illiteracy impedes some women from
distinguishing between the deep-rooted tradition of FGM and religious
practices. A number of NGO's also work actively to educate the public about
the health hazards of the practice.
People With Disabilities
There are approximately 5.7 million disabled persons, of
whom 1.5 million are disabled severely. The Government makes serious efforts
to address their rights. It works closely with U.N. agencies and other
international aid donors to design job-training programs for the disabled. The
Government also seeks to increase the public's awareness of the capabilities
of the disabled in television programming, the print media, and in educational
material in public schools.
By law, all businesses must designate 5 percent of their
jobs for the disabled, who are exempt from normal literacy requirements.
Although there is no legislation mandating access to public accommodations and
transportation, the disabled may ride government-owned mass transit buses
without charge, are given priority in obtaining telephones, and receive
reductions on customs duties for private vehicles.
The Constitution provides for equal public rights and
duties without discrimination due to religion or creed. For the most part,
these constitutional protections are upheld by the Government. However,
discrimination against Christians exists. There are no Christians serving as
governors, university presidents, and deans. There are few Christians in the
upper ranks of the security services and armed forces. Although there was
improvement in a few areas, government discriminatory practices include:
Suspected statistical underrepresentation of the size of the Christian
population; bias against Christianity and Coptic history in the educational
curricula; limited or biased coverage of Christian subjects in the media;
failure to admit Christians into public university training programs for
Arabic language teachers (because the curriculum involves study of the Koran);
discrimination against Christians in the public sector; and discrimination
against Christians in staff appointments to public universities.
The approximately 6 million Coptic Christians have been the
objects of occasional violent assaults by the Islamic Group and other
terrorists. However, there were no reports of terrorist attacks against
Christians during the year. In incidents unrelated to terrorism, a Christian
priest in Mahalla and a Christian priest in Dairout were attacked by
individual extremists in August and September, respectively. The assailant in
the first incident was charged with attempted murder and the case was referred
to a criminal court. No trial date was set by year's end. The assailant in the
Dairout case was determined to be mentally unstable and remains in custody.
The Government provided the priests with medical care. The Public Prosecutor
charged Ahmad Fergally Ahmad Nasir and Ibrhaim Fergally Ahmad Nasir with
premeditated murder after the Nasir brothers shot and killed a monk on
September 2 in Assiyut governorate following a land dispute. The monk was
affiliated with a monastery that rents thousands of acres of agricultural land
to local tenants; the Nasir brothers were tenants on the land. The Public
Prosecutor appealed the September 21 verdict of a criminal court that ruled
that the Nasir brothers were guilty of an "attack leading to death"
and sentenced them to 7 years in prison. The Public Prosecutor is seeking a
conviction for premeditated murder. The case is pending before an appeals
court. A December 31 dispute between a Christian shop owner and a Muslim
customer in the village of Al-Kush in Sohag governorate escalated into violent
exchanges between Christians and Muslims (see Section 1.c.).
According to press reports, in October a State Security
Emergency court began the trial of four members of a terrorist group from the
upper (southern) city of Dairout accused of murder and attempted murder of
policemen and Christians in the early 1990's. The trial was postponed until
December, then later postponed again until February 2000. There was no
information available about the identities of the defendants and the specific
charges against them by year's end (see Sections 1.a. and 1.e.).
Some Christians have alleged that the Government is lax in
protecting Christian lives and property. Security forces arrest extremists who
perpetrate violence against Christians, but some members of the Christian
community do not believe that the Government is sufficiently vigorous in its
efforts to prevent attacks. They also maintain that the Government does little
to correct nonviolent forms of discrimination, including its own.
There were reports of forced conversions of Coptic girls to
Islam. Reports of such cases are disputed and often include inflammatory
allegations and categorical denials of kidnaping and rape. Observers,
including human rights groups, find it extremely difficult to determine
whether compulsion was used, as most cases involve a Coptic girl who converts
to Islam when she marries a Muslim boy. According to the Government, in such
cases the girl must meet with her family, with her priest, and with the head
of her church before she is allowed to convert. However, there are credible
reports of government harassment of Christian families that attempt to regain
custody of their daughters, and of the failure of the authorities to uphold
the law (which states that a marriage of a girl under the age of 16 is
prohibited, and between the ages of 16 and 21 is illegal, without the approval
and presence of her guardian) in cases of marriage between an underage
Christian girl and a Muslim boy.
There is no legal requirement for a Christian girl or woman
to convert to Islam in order to marry a Muslim. If a Christian woman marries a
Muslim man, she is excommunicated by the Coptic Church. Ignorance of the law
and social pressure, including the centrality of marriage to a woman's
identity, often affect her decision. Family conflict and financial pressure
also are cited as factors. In addition conversion is a means of circumventing
the legal prohibition on marriage between the ages of 16 and 21 without the
approval and presence of the girl's guardian. Most Christian families would
object to a daughter's wish to marry a Muslim. If a Christian girl converts to
Islam, her family loses guardianship, which transfers to a Muslim custodian,
who is likely to grant approval. The law is silent on the matter of the
acceptable age of conversion.
Anti-Semitism in the Egyptian press is found in both the
government press and in the press of the opposition parties. The Government
has criticized anti-Semitism and advised journalists and cartoonists to avoid
anti-Semitism. There have been no violent anti-Semitic incidents in recent
years directed at the tiny Jewish community.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
Workers may join trade unions but are not required to do
so. A union local, or workers' committee, may be formed if 50 employees
express a desire to organize. Most union members, about 27 per cent of the
labor force, are employed by state-owned enterprises. The law stipulates that
"high administrative" officials in government and the public sector
may not join unions.
There are 23 trade unions, all required to belong to the
Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), the sole legally recognized labor
federation. The International Labor Organization's Committee of Experts
repeatedly has emphasized that a law that requires all trade unions to belong
to a single federation infringes on freedom of association. The Government has
shown no sign that it intends to accept the establishment of more than one
federation. The ETUF leadership asserts that it actively promotes worker
interests and that there is no need for another federation. ETUF officials
have close relations with the NDP, and some are members of the People's
Assembly or the Shura Council. They speak vigorously on behalf of worker
concerns, but public confrontations between the ETUF and the Government are
rare. Disputes more often are resolved by consensus behind closed doors.
The labor laws do not provide adequately for the rights to
strike and to engage in collective bargaining. Even though the right to strike
is not provided, strikes occur. The Government considers strikes a form of
public disturbance and therefore illegal.
In March six members of the Tagammu opposition party were
arrested by state security forces following a meeting in Cairo to discuss
opposition to draft labor legislation. They were charged with "possessing
publications that disturb public order and security" for carrying
pamphlets that criticized the draft labor law. Three of the six were released
immediately. The other three were questioned and released following payment of
bail in the amount of $170 (500 Egyptian pounds) each (see Section 1.d. and
An increasing number of strikes took place in the public
sector and at privatized companies during the year, mainly over issues of wage
cuts and dismissals. From the period January to October, 28 strikes occurred.
Most of the strikes took place in Alexandria, Cairo, and the delta (northern
Egypt), the country's industrial centers. Most of the strikes occurred in
public-sector companies and lasted for 1 day. Each strike involved hundreds of
workers, and in several instances more than a thousand workers were involved.
Ten strikes occurred in January alone. Bonuses and incentives tied to the
previous year's production typically are disbursed in January, and failure to
disburse the bonuses often leads to a strike. ETUF or government officials
successfully mediated most of the strikes.
Some unions within the ETUF are affiliated with
international trade union organizations. Others are in the process of becoming
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Under the law, unions may negotiate work contracts with
public sector enterprises if the latter agree to such negotiations, but unions
otherwise lack collective bargaining power in the state sector. Under current
circumstances, collective bargaining does not exist in any meaningful sense
because the Government sets wages, benefits, and job classifications by law.
Firms in the private sector generally do not adhere to such
government-mandated standards. Although they are required to observe some
government practices, such as the minimum wage, social security insurance, and
official holidays, they often do not adhere to government practice in
non-binding matters, including award of the annual Labor Day bonus.
Labor law and practice are the same in Egypt's six export
processing zones (EPZ's) as in the rest of the country.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The Constitution prohibits forced labor; however, the
Criminal Code authorizes sentences of hard labor for some crimes. Although the
law does not prohibit specifically forced and bonded labor by children, such
practices are not known to occur (see Section 6.d.). Domestic and foreign
workers generally are not subject to coerced or bonded labor. During the year
the Government successfully resolved one sensationalized incident of forced
domestic labor involving a foreign resident employer.
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for
Under the 1996 Child Law (see Section 5), the minimum age
for employment is 14 in nonagricultural work. Provincial governors, with the
approval of the Minister of Education, may authorize seasonal work for
children between the ages of 12 and 14, provided that duties are not hazardous
and do not interfere with schooling. Preemployment training for children under
the age of 12 is prohibited. It is prohibited for children to work for more
than 6 hours a day. One or more breaks totaling at least 1 hour must be
included. Children are not to work overtime, during their weekly day off,
between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., or for more than 4 hours continuously. Education is
compulsory, free, and universal for the first 8 academic years (typically
until the age of 15).
In general the Government does not devote adequate
resources and oversight to child labor policies. Statistical information on
the number of working children is difficult to obtain and often out of date. A
comprehensive study prepared by the Government's statistical agency in 1988
indicated that 1.309 million children between the ages of 6 and 14 are
employed. In November the Minister of Social Affairs reportedly stated that 1
million children participate in agricultural labor. Government studies also
indicate that the concentration of working children is higher in rural than
urban areas. Nearly 78 percent of working children are in the agricultural
sector. However, children also work as domestics, as apprentices in auto
repair and craft shops, in heavier industries such as construction, in
brick-making and textiles, and as workers in tanneries and carpet-making
factories. While local trade unions report that the Ministry of Labor
adequately enforces the labor laws in state-owned enterprises, enforcement in
the private sector, especially in family-owned enterprises, is lax. Many of
these children are abused and overworked by their employers, and the
restrictions in the Child Law have not improved conditions due to lax
enforcement on the part of the Government. There are no records of cases in
which an employer was fined or imprisoned.
Although the law does not prohibit specifically forced and
bonded labor by children, such practices are not known to occur (see Section
e. Acceptable conditions of work
For Government and public sector employees, the minimum
wage is approximately $34 (about 116 Egyptian pounds) a month for a 6-day,
42-hour workweek. The minimum wage, which is set by the Government and applied
nationwide, is enforced effectively by the Ministry of Administrative
Development. The minimum wage does not provide for a decent standard of living
for a worker and family; however, base pay commonly is supplemented by a
complex system of fringe benefits and bonuses that may double or triple a
worker's take-home pay. The minimum wage also is binding legally on the
private sector, and larger private companies generally observe the requirement
and pay bonuses as well. Smaller firms do not always pay the minimum wage or
The Ministry of Labor sets worker health and safety
standards, which also apply in the export processing zones; however,
enforcement and inspections are uneven. In October state security forces
arrested Fathy Al-Masri and detained him for 15 days for possessing a pamphlet
entitled "The Right to Medical Services." The pamphlet was prepared
in response to an administrative bulletin announcing a prohibition on
nonmedical emergency services issued by the General Director for Medical
Services for the Al-Nasr hide tanning company (see Sections 1.d. and 2.a.).
The law prohibits employers from maintaining hazardous
working conditions, and workers have the right to remove themselves from
hazardous conditions without risking loss of employment.
f. Trafficking in Persons
The law does not prohibit specifically trafficking in
persons; however, the law prohibits prostitution and sex tourism.
There were no reports that persons were trafficked in, to,
or from the country.
Source: U.S. State Department.