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lundi 16 juin 2014

Egypt: Freedom of Assembly Faces Dangerous Relapse in Egypt, Turkey, and Algeria

press release
On Friday, June 13, 2014, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, in conjunction with the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), the World Organization Against Torture, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), organized a special event on the right to peaceful assembly in the Euro-Mediterranean region, titled "Freedom of assembly in the Euro-Med Region: a dangerous relapse?" The side event was held at the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which is currently convened in Geneva and which will continue until June 27.
The event featured Osman İşçi, Human Rights Association of Turkey and Executive committee member of EMHRN; Yacine Zaid, unionist and member of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, (LADDH)Algeria; andBassem Al Samragy, a researcher on Egypt program at the CIHRS. The discussion was chaired by Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT).
The event reviewed the most significant conclusions of a regional study prepared by the EMHRN on the statutory framework regulating the right of peaceful assembly in 13 Euro-Mediterranean countries and their compliance with international standards. It also highlighted flaws in law and practice in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey, proposing specific recommendations for reform and the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests.
The event is opened with a discussion of the major points of the EMHRN field study, presented by Osman İşçi; who noted that new forms of peaceful assembly had emerged during the recent uprisings in the region, which the study viewed as a clear reflection of citizens' desire to expand the limits of citizenship and actively participate in politics.
The study found that countries all over the region impose harsh penalties against demonstrators, including heavy fines and/or prison terms, most seriously in Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, and Syria. Many of these countries use exceptional laws, such as counterterrorism laws, to severely punish demonstrators (as in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Turkey, and some European countries). In addition, some states try civilians before military or exceptional courts that do not meet fair trial standards (Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Turkey).
For example, Turkish authorities, according to İşçi, treat protests as an ongoing threat to the regime. The law dictates that the authorities be notified of any protest three days in advance, leaving no space for spontaneous protests. Harsh sentences have also been given to demonstrators convicted on terrorism charges after they simply took part in a peaceful protest. "The identity of the demonstrators also determines the Turkish police's response to the demonstration," İşçi said. "Minorities, for example, face more violations." He added that activists are often harassed and charged as members of illegal groups and occasionally terrorist organizations, which are the most common charges against activists in Turkey. He discussed his own experience in this regard, after he was sentenced to one year in prison on similar charges.


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