- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2015

Despite pledging to restore order and stability a year ago, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has instead “presided over the flagrant abuse of human rights,” according to Human Rights Watch, which said Monday that “violence by armed groups and the government has escalated” since the former army chief was elected in 2014.

According to the group, “al-Sisi and his cabinet, governing by decree in the absence of an elected parliament, have provided near total impunity for security force abuses and issued a raft of laws that severely curtailed civil and political rights, effectively erasing the human rights gains of the 2011 uprising that ousted the longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.”

Mr. al-Sisi took power last June after a presidential election in which he won over 96 percent of the vote. Prior to the election, he led the effort in 2013 to depose Islamist President Mohamed Morsi after a wave of popular protests.

Many are not pleased with Mr. al-Sisi’s follow up to the 2013 coup. According to Human Rights Watch, “no member of the security forces has been held accountable for the mass killings of protesters that followed the military’s July 2013 removal of [Mr. Morsi], Egypt’s freely-elected president, which al-Sisi orchestrated as defense minister.”

The organization contends that the killings “amounted to probable crimes against humanity,” citing State Department reports that describe “a series of executive initiatives, new laws, and judicial actions” that “severely restrict freedom of expression and the press, freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly and due process.”

It also condemned the government’s enforcement of a “de facto protest ban” and the deaths of at least 20 people during the events surrounding the fourth anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

In the release entitled “Egypt: Year of Abuses Under al-Sisi,” the rights watchdog called on the United States and the European Union to “press al-Sisi and his advisers” to reduce, rescind laws and actions passed since the removal of Mr. Morsi, as well as release prisoners “unjustly detained for exercising their human rights.”

Parliamentary elections were scheduled to take place this past March, but were delayed after an Egyptian court found some of the election laws to be unconstitutional. The country has not had a democratically-elected legislative body since June of 2012, when the Muslim-Brotherhood dominated parliament was dissolved by the Egyptian supreme court following a second round of presidential elections.

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