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The decision of a Cairo court on September 7 to acquit four senior policemen accused of killing civilians during the revolution last year raises serious concerns about the path of transitional justice in Egypt.

This article originally appeared in the American Interest on August 23, 2012. See the original here.

During a visit to Cairo in late July, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised the relationship between newly elected President Mohamed Morsi and Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the longtime Defense Minister who had ruled Egypt after Hosni Mubarak’s fall from power. Ten days ago, Morsi radically changed that relationship, announcing the retirement of Tantawi and several other senior military officials in a move that caught almost all observers, including the Obama Administration, by surprise.

The decision by Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi to bar pre-trial detention for members of the media is ‘window dressing’ designed to draw attention away from the broader campaign against freedom of the press and free expression in Egypt, where journalists still face prosecution for writing articles critical of the government. The ongoing move to silence media is reminiscent of tactics employed by former president Hosni Mubarak.

In this two-part interview, Nancy Okail, the director of Freedom House’s Egypt office, discusses the state of Egypt’s transition to democracy in the wake of parliamentary and presidential elections earlier this year.


Signature Reports

Special Reports

Egypt Democracy Compass

The Egypt Democracy Compass is designed to provide a snapshot of the country’s trajectory, either toward or further away from a truly democratic system, on a monthly basis. The compass will assess progress in eight key components of  democratic transition: the constitution, elections, political participation, civilian control and security-sector reform, media freedom and freedom of expression, religious freedom, peaceful assembly and civic activism, and judicial independence and rule of law.

Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy Laws on Human Rights

Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy Laws on Human Rights examines the human rights implications of domestic blasphemy and religious insult laws using the case studies of seven countries—Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Poland—where such laws exist both on paper and in practice. Without exception, blasphemy laws violate the fundamentalfreedom of expression, as they are by definition intended to protect religious institutions and religious doctrine– i.e., abstract ideas and concepts – from insult or offence. At their most benign, such laws lead to self-censorship.  In Greece and Poland, two of the more democratic countries examined in the study, charges brought against high-profile artists, curators and writers serve as a warning to others that certain topics are off limits. At their worst, in countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia, such laws lead to overt governmental censorship and individuals are both prosecuted and subject to severe criminal penalties including lengthy jail sentences.


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