Egypt's journalists launch legal campaign against police abuse

Egypt's journalists launch legal campaign against police abuse
2 min read
27 April, 2016
Egypt's Press Syndicate will file a complaint against the interior minister and Cairo's security chief over the targeting of journalists covering protests on Monday.
The syndicate will file a complaint over "police violations" against journalists [Anadolu]
Egypt's Press Syndicate has announced it will file a complaint with the prosecutor-general against the interior minister over "police violations" against journalists covering protests on Monday.

The syndicate will also file a complaint against the head of Cairo's security directorate, based on testimonies of journalists who were "assaulted during their work, not allowed to enter the syndicate headquarters or who were inside the headquarters and were subjected to the assault by thugs", syndicate secretary Gamal Abdel-Raheem said.

Dozens of journalists were barred from entering the union's building, a planned assembly point for the protests, even after showing their press IDs in a "precedent that has not taken place in years", as security forces sealed off the surrounding streets over the threat of protests.

"Security forces commissioned groups of thugs and transported them in buses to the syndicate," the statement read.

"They attempted to break in, chanted against journalists with the most demeaning words, and chanted that they were traitors and agents."

Khaled al-Balshy, the head of the syndicate's freedoms committee, told Egyptian website Ahram Online that seven journalists remain in detention.

During an urgent meeting, the syndicate condemned "storming attempts by thugs under the eye of security forces who were present and surrounded the headquarters without interfering to secure the building to stop [those thugs from] storming the building and clashing with the journalists inside".

Security forces commissioned groups of thugs and transported them in buses to the syndicate. They attempted to break in, chanted against journalists with the most demeaning words, and chanted that they were traitors and agents.
- Egypt Press Syndicate

Amnesty International has condemned the crackdown on activists and protesters demonstrating on Monday, urging the Egyptian authorities to "respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Anyone detained for peacefully protesting should be released".

"The Egyptian authorities appear to have orchestrated a heavy-handed and ruthlessly efficient campaign to squash this protest before it even began," said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International's interim deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Mass arrests, road blocks and huge deployments of security forces made it impossible for peaceful demonstrations to take place."

The syndicate will hold a press conference on Thursday to allow journalists to recount what they endured.

At least 43 journalists were arrested on Monday as they covered nationwide protests against the government's recent decision to give up sovereignty over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Sisi warned of "firm action" against protesters planning to take part in Monday's demonstrations.