The Parliamentary action: News of formalities and lack of content
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued Decision No. 714 of 2020 to break the sixth regular session of the House of Representatives as of Sunday 20 December 2020, with which the Council completes its first legislative term within five calendar years from the date of its first meeting.
On December 16, 2020, Dr. Ali Abdel-Aal, Speaker of Parliament, announced the dissolution of the sixth session of the first legislative term, during the parliamentary session, which witnessed the discussion of a number of international agreements.
The Human Rights Bulletin: Abuse and arrogance with an American green light
The most prominent news during the past week was that prisoner Alaa Abdel Fattah disturbed his guards while he was in prison. Although the Administrative Judiciary Court, headed by Counselor Tawfiq Al Shahat, the Vice President of the State Council, had ruled not to accept the lawsuit filed by Alaa in which he demands the allowance of some means of communication such as the “laptop” inside his prison in Tora prison, while enabling him to practice exercise inside the prison and enabling his relatives to visit him, He showed the evidence of regime’s repression by using the same tools of the regime.
Alaa Abdel Fattah said in his lawsuit that he is prevented from exercising, besides preventing his relatives from visiting him which are considered a violation to the provisions of the constitution, law, human rights charters and international treaties that Egypt has signed in this regard.
Sentences on prisoners, but they are against the regime
Meanwhile, the judicial rulings continued without any signs of respecting the conditions for a fair trial. In addition, the Military Court, held at the Courts Complex in Tora, issued its verdict in Case No. 137 of 2018 in the North Cairo Military Criminal Court, known in the media as “the Organization of the Sinai Province 4”, in which 555 accused persons are accused of establishing 43 cluster cells affiliated with ISIS and committing 63 crimes in North Sinai. . The details of the rulings:
Earlier, the Supreme State Security Prosecution had considered the cases 79 and 1000 of 2017, and referred them to the military court under No. 137 of 2018 the Northern Military Criminal court.
After more than a year and a half of enforced disappearance and pretrial detention, and the refusal of many lawyers ’requests to release him, the Cairo Criminal Court’s Counseling Chamber decided to release the engineer Ibrahim Ezz El-Din, a researcher at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.
The Cairo Criminal Court also renewed the imprisonment session of both the human rights lawyer Amr Imam, the journalists Hossam Al Sayyad, Ahmed Shaker, Khaled Daoud, and the students Ahmed Eid Mohamed, Mohamed Fadi Ahmed and Al Badri Arafa in Case No. 488 of 2019.
The Supreme State Security Prosecution has started to complete the investigations with the human rights lawyer Mahinour Al Masry, the journalists Solafa Magdy and Israa Abdel Fattah in Case No. 488 of 2019 by the State Security.
Students’ elections: The commendation of the regime and striking the students’ union
The student union elections ended with the announcement of the various universities to the president and vice president of their student union. In a repeated scene for the third year continually, most of the seats of the College Unions were decided by commendation, in the absence of political student movements, while the “Students for Egypt” group supported by university administrations participated.
“Students for Egypt” took control of all the students’ union seats at Kafr El-Sheikh University, and the movement’s coordinator at Cairo University won the presidency of the university’s students union. A previous report by “Mada Masr” revealed a letter that the administration of Menoufia University addressed to the youth welfare offices in 2018, during the students’ union elections at the time, calling for the group to appoint a coordinator of student activity in all faculties, in order to “support it and maintain this entity to build upon.”
The commendation was decided by the election results in 9 faculties at Cairo University, 7 faculties at Matrouh University, 13 faculties at Helwan University, 16 faculties at Alexandria University, 13 faculties at Port Said University, 10 faculties at Canal University, and 12 faculties at Benha University.
The elections this year lacked any political student movements, which was explained by two former leading sources in two student movements inside universities, that the activity of their movements had stopped due to security prosecutions.
The Human Rights: International pressure paper despite the tragic reports about it
Reporters Without Borders issued a statement calling for the immediate release of all detained journalists, after the list of arbitrarily detained journalists in Egypt increased week by week, as a journalist and blogger was arrested. In this regard,
The number of the imprisoned journalists has risen to 31 in Egypt, w as repression continues with worrisome frequency The editor-in-chief of Al-Shaab newspaper, Aamer Abdel Moneim, was imprisoned for a period of 15 days, subject to renewal, after his arrest at midnight on December 18 at his home in Giza in the capital, Cairo, on charges of “spreading false news” and “participating in terrorist activities”. He was interrogated without the presence of a lawyer. His relatives confirmed that his health is deteriorating, noting that he suffers from diabetes and recently underwent eye surgery. This arrest comes against the backdrop of articles published by Aamer Abdel Moneim in the past weeks, where he criticized the authoritarian policies of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, denouncing the detention campaigns against journalists and human rights defenders.
As for the blogger Shady Abu Zeid, who was released last October, he found himself behind bars again after the issuance of an appeal ruling for six months in prison for “insulting the Ministry of Interior.” The Court of Appeal upheld the 2016 ruling issued against him by the Qasr El Nil Criminal Court, on the background of a satirical video clip in which he defrauded police officers. Shady was previously imprisoned for the first time in May 2018, as he remained in pretrial detention for more than two years pending investigation in two criminal cases, on charges of “spreading false news” and “belonging to a terrorist group.”
Despite this tragic situation of human rights in Egypt, it is not sufficient when it comes to the strategies of states. This was clearly evident with regard to US financial aid to the regime in Egypt.
The US Congress approved the renewal of US aid to Egypt, in both its civilian and military parts, to reach a total of about one billion and 425 million dollars, of which 1.3 billion are military aid. The aid was approved in the discussion of the US budget for 2021. However the Congress suspended $ 75 million from it under the condition of releasing the political prisoners without the possibility of exceeding this condition, a condition that occurs for the first time in this way. The budget is still awaiting approval by US President Donald Trump to become final.
In general, the Congress suspended the transfer of $ 300 million in military aid on the condition of improving the human rights situation in Egypt, and required $ 225 million to take measures to strengthen the rule of law, democratic institutions, and human rights, including the protection of religious minorities and the rights of women. In addition to implementing reforms to protect freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, including enabling civil society organizations, human rights defenders and the media to operate without interference, holding security forces accountable in the event of allegations of human rights violations, and investigating incidents of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
However, the budget law made it possible to exempt “Cairo” from these conditions or some of them, by a decision of the US State Department if it was for the “national security interest of the United States”, with the need for the State Department to submit a report to Congress explaining the reasons for that exemption.
On the Egyptian side, despite the criticisms directed at the Egyptian government regarding its human rights situation, the official discourse remains using the usual language that is ridiculous The Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that “human rights and human building are at the core of the state’s development strategy”, adding that “the comprehensive development process led by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is moving steadily forward according to an integrated vision that takes into account human rights in its broad and comprehensive sense and addresses the needs and aspirations of the Egyptian citizen before anything ». Shoukry’s statement came during his meeting with the Technical Secretariat of the Higher Committee for Human Rights, which was established a year ago and headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The committee undertakes the tasks of communicating with the UN and international bodies regarding the human rights file in Egypt, preparing the government’s response to local and international reports on the human rights situation, as well as preparing a draft of a “national strategy for human rights.”
Hence, many persons were not surprised by the Public Prosecution Office’s retraction of its moral convictions against Tik Tok girls. There is no protection for human rights in principle in repressive regimes. The New Cairo Misdemeanor Court acquitted Mawaddah Al-Adham, known as the “Tik Tok Girl”, and Ghada Abdel Ghaffar Abu Al-Makarem, her friend, from accusing them of “disturbing public order, disturbing public security and peace, and inciting the public and teenagers to violate the curfew”. The court also ruled to fine “Al-Adham” one thousand pounds for accusing her of “breaking the curfew in violation of government decisions to confront the Coronavirus”.
At the same time, it adheres to defending the murderers and criminals and promoting impunity. The Egyptian Public Prosecutor has temporarily ordered not to persue a criminal case in the murder and detention of the victim, “Giulio Regeni,” and his physical torture, due to not knowing the identity of the perpetrator.
The Public Prosecutor instructed investigation entities to carry out their work to identify the culprits and dropped the charges against four officers and a policeman affiliated to the National Security Agency. And that there is no base for filling a criminal case of the theft of the victim’s belongings by force which left wounds on his body, since the preparators were killed.
Seeking to restore the economic and political security: The solution? Loan and indebtedness?
Considering the deteriorating financial and economic situation in the country, the Assembly seeks to find solutions to escape from this crisis. Thus, this week, it sought to work and pass bills related to the approval of loans and funds for Tunisia such as bill No.114/2020 concerning the approval of the ratified loan contract dated to July 13, 2020 between the Tunisian republic and the German Credit Corporation for re-construction in order to fund the programs to support reforms in the public sector, also the bill related to the approval of the ratified loan contract between the the Tunisian republic and the German Credit Corporation.
Under the spread of chaos in the Assembly recently and the increase of disdaining the parliamentary work, the committee on bylaws, immunity, and the electoral and parliamentary laws approved the proposals for amending the bylaws. It provided that the plenary session scheduled for this issue would be considered on Tuesday, 5 January 2021. These proposals are mainly related to cancelling the special committees, tightening the procedures related to the absence of the representatives and limiting changing the blocs for the representatives or what is expressed as the partisan tourism, in addition to the procedures related to immunity. However this level even is positive, it is necessarily affected by the partisan scene.
Large shakes in the parties
As for the political scene, it witnessed shakes this week, some of which were expected. The Heart of Tunisia is shaken by the issuance of an arrest order against its head after he was summoned before the investigative financial judge regarding the case related to the suspicion of money laundering. It is a matter that raises bewilderment and questions in the minds of citizens. Is it possible that the legislator who sees to the enactment of laws and imposing legitimacy in the country, is corrupt? Did he choose that place to make laws for his personal interests? Presumably, in case, this scenario is right, there is a serious threatening for rights, freedoms and legitimacy in the country.
This arrest took place after the Minister of Interior gave orders for all security services to implement the orders of the public prosecution and the orders of arrest regardless who is the person and whatever his position, after his meeting with the president on Thursday, December 24, 2020
The “Long Live Tunisia” movement is also shaken by what it described as a campaign of defamation and vicious rumors that targets a number of the party’s leaders on social media websites and some media means. The movement described this campaign as systematic immoral practices which beat the honor of people and destroy the credibility of the public action, calling the public opinion not to believe these lies which are spread by political parties that are experiencing defamation and misinformation. The Long Live Tunisia movement called on the public prosecution to interact with the ongoing lawsuits and punish those persons who intend to spread lies and reveal the parties which move them.
The governmental action is challenging the necessities of the health sector and bodies
Regarding the aggravation of the Covid crisis, the Prime Minister, Hicham Mechichi gave the priority to this issue as on Wednesday, December 23, 2020, he supervised a working session at the cabinet’s palace in Kasbah with the attendance of the Minister of Health, the Minister of Social affairs, the dean of doctors, and representatives from the Public University for Health,the Syndicate of University Hospital Physicians, Doctors Syndicate, Dental Syndicate, Pharmacists Syndicate for public health, Tunisian Association of Young Doctors and the Civil Coalition to Defend the Public Health Facility. The meeting dealt with many critical issues of the health sector, and the most prominent issue is finding ways to reform the health system, the most important requirements of professionals and the status of public hospitals, in addition to limiting the migration of medical professionals abroad. The Prime Minister interacted positively with the set of proposals submitted by most of the attendees from the trade union representations of the health sector and authorized the creation of a national commission to reform the public health facility that includes the overlapped parties, provided that its components and objectives are defined in a participatory manner during the coming weeks. The Prime Minister also stressed the need to make an additional effort to raise the Ministry of Health’s budget in the upcoming supplementary budget law, considering that most of the points that were proposed and presented during this session would be discussed and decided within the framework of the created national commission.
Also, due to the worsening health situation in the country, the President of the Republic, Kais Saeied, decided to extend the state of emergency throughout the country for a period of six months, starting from December 26, 2020 until June 23, 2021, according to a presidential order No. 164 of 2020 dated back to December 23 2020.
And to support the efforts between the legislative authority and the executive authority during the crisis in the country, Prime Minister Hicham El Mechichi met with some parties supporting his government, including the Heart of Tunis and the Ennahda Movement, the Reform Bloc, the Long Live Tunisia Movement, the National Bloc, in order to be able to reach solutions for this crisis. During this meeting, the Prime Minister emphasized his openness to all proposals that would advance the country’s status away from all political disputes.
We also note that the government started to give importance to the bodies and listen to their demands. The Prime Minister Hisham Mechichi supervised on Monday December 28, 2020 at the Government Palace in the Kasbah a working session with representatives from the governorate of Jendouba in a number of fields and economic, social and cultural competencies. The Prime Minister confirmed in a speech at the beginning of the session, the importance of this governorate in terms of its agricultural, economic and human potential, noting its pivotal role in supporting the national economy.
He also highlighted a set of development deficiencies in which the governorate suffers from, stressing the need to give it the necessary importance like the rest of the country. He indicated that the regional development file is one of the priorities of government work, which is based on a participatory basis that brings together the various economic and social actors and the competencies of each body in order to find solutions to overcome the problems of development of the entities and the implementation of the proposed projects.
In following up the work of the bodies, the elections commission presented, on December 26, 2020, during a press conference in the capital, a number of recommendations and proposals, the most important is the remote registration of voters in Tunisia and the possibility of remote voting for Tunisians abroad, while supporting gender in the legislative elections through the participation of youth and women in the candidate lists. The Head of the Elections Commission, Nabil Bafoun, considered that any change in the electoral law should not take place before 2021 in order to allow the commission to take all the necessary arrangements and legal measures before the date of the municipal elections in 2023, and the legislative and presidential elections in 2024.
Is the crisis of judges resolved? : The Material demands and the challenge of independence?
Following up the strike of the judges which ended with an agreement on a solution to end the disputes between the government and the Association of Judges which led to end the strike. That sector remains till today in paralysis due to the clerks’ strike which is still continuing until now. In order to resolve this situation, the Ministry of Justice intervened and sent a leaflet to the regional directors of justice in order to coordinate with the returning governors in order to adopt a mechanism to settle the situation of courts’ secretaries This decision was based on the state of emergency that the country is going through.
In addition, it was decided to make a negotiation session between the Syndicate of the employees of Justice (courts’ secretaries) and the Prime Ministry on Wednesday, December 30, at 10 am.
Demand and sectionalism in the absence of the national project: always present
The General University of Curators and General Curators decided to implement a national day of rage on January 6, 2021, in the Kasbah Square, calling in a statement to activate the May 8, 2018 agreement, especially at the level of the numerical base grant for school time in addition to retirement on the basis of 37/55 and the exceptional promotion of all sectors .
The curators and general curators demanded an increase in the administration grant for general curators and the regularization of the status of contractors and the declaration of regular promotions of 2020, according to the statement of the university that boycotted the school exams in preparation and achievement, during the last closed week for the preparatory and secondary students. It is also expected that retirees may protest during this period to demand an increase in their minimum wage.
The series of these protests was not without the demands of the families of the martyrs and wounded persons of the revolution for the Prime Ministry to implement the law and immediately publish the list in the official Gazette. This is after they have carried out a hunger strike since December 21, after being subjected to violence and humiliation in the Kasbah on December 17. The Strike Support Committee called for a protest gathering on Tuesday in front of the strike headquarters in the capital. And these demands are renewed and not new. In this regard, the Speaker of the Assembly, Racheed Al Ghannouchi held a meeting on Tuesday, December 2, 2020 with a delegation from the National Committee for Victims of Tyranny, and considered that “the transitional justice file requires the concerted efforts of all national parties to overcome the remnants of the past and achieve comprehensive national reconciliation”.
Recently, the country witnessed a crisis in a vital and important sector which is the gas sector This crisis has arisen in a similar sector, which is the electricity sector, as on Monday, December 28, 2020, the city of Feriana from the Kasserine governorate has lived on the impact of protests by a number of residents of the region, denouncing the ongoing power cut in the city over the past three days.. Protesters burned rubber tires and blocked the main road to express their anger.
On Tuesday, December 29, 2020, mayors in the governorate of Tataouine carried out a protest in front of the headquarter of the governorate to condemn “the procrastination of the supervisory authority in signing the statute for the mayors’ salaries and the failure to pay the third amount of the agreed increases”. In addition to “calling for their joining the cooperative of agents and of the positions of the Ministry of Interior”. The protesters also demanded to be enabled by procedures for protecting from the Coronavirus, especially as they are among the first soldiers in combating that crisis that the country is going through.
In the same context of the protests in the regions and dissatisfaction with their situation, the Regional Administrative Authority, held in Kasserine, decided, on Tuesday, December 29, 2020, to carry out a one-day general strike in the governorate of Kasserine, on January 26, 2021. Also, the Secretary General of the Regional Labor Union in Tozeur announced, after the regional administrative committee convened today, Tuesday, December 29, 2020, to enter into a general strike that its date would be determined later. And he stressed the need to find a radical solution to the real estate problem in the region, in addition to providing sanitary equipment for hospitals and developing a clear strategy to protect dates, in addition to developing a plan to save tourism institutions.
The pollution reaches the environment and state?
On the impact of the blatant violation of the citizens’ right to a safe environment, which arose through the Italian waste issue, the Democratic Current Party condemned what it considered as the government’s slowdown in taking measures to return Italian waste that entered Tunisia in a blatant violation of national sovereignty and a clear violation of international treaties and the Basel Convention in particular.
In a statement, the Current called on the government to move quickly to guarantee the right of the Tunisian state before the expiration of the deadlines and to clarify what is being spread about the destruction of a part of this waste on Tunisian soil. It called for the need to deal with the complicated and sovereign environmental issue seriously, to put the efficiencies on its head and to avoid its involvement in the partisan quotas. In the same context, a number of workers of the petroleum companies established in the Tataouine desert, have warned of the danger of accumulating plastic waste in a number of regions in the desert of the region and the threat to the environment. The workers called for the supervision of the authorities to accelerate their avoidance of this and to adopt radical solutions to remove them periodically and prevent their accumulation.
In this regard, the Prime Minister stated that the file had been entrusted by the judiciary, which authorized seizing 212 containers until the completion of the investigation. The Prime Minister assured that they would abide by what the judiciary would reach, and as a result, the fate of the containers would be determined.
He added that the Tunisian state would adhere to its right until the last moment to recover its right and return this waste to Italy, according to him, noting that there are international agreements that regulate the process of importing and exporting waste.
On the impact of the increasing spread of the cases of corruption in the country recently, the head of the Assembly’s Governance and Anti-Corruption Committee revealed that the Anti-Crime Brigade in the Al-Khadra neighborhood in Tunis has managed to overthrow two employees of the Ministry of Trade while they are about to receive a “bribe” worth 60,000 dinars. He explained that the security units, after consulting the Public Prosecutor, ambushed the two policemen, who “were going to blackmail a merchant in Mahdia in exchange for settling his situation, and they were arrested, pending the disclosure of the rest of the perpetrators”.
Corruption operations continue this week by monitoring many violations in the customs, as on Saturday, December 26,
were seized and imported from Egypt for the benefit of a private company established in one of the coastal cities, through the commercial port of Sousse. Previously, spare parts made with counterfeit materials were seized.
Under the blockage of the horizon of the political dialogue in Libya which is under the auspices of the United Nations mission and the inability of the dialogue committee to choose a clear mechanism through which a unified leadership of the executive authority that has been divided for more than three years, could be formed. We find that there is regional movement from some of the overlapping countries in the Libyan issue, in order to make a change in the international balance in Libya, as these countries seek to have a greater opportunity to impose a new reality on the path of political dialogue.
The political dialogue: A deadlock and a possible permanent war
This becomes clear when the 90-day deadline announced by the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Stephanie Williams, to expel mercenaries and foreign forces, without any real implementation on the ground by the two parties to the conflict. And the parties’ refusal to implement this important provision in Dialogue rounds would lead to create a new and more complicated stage in Libya, which could be summed up as “no peace and no war”. This means that the negotiations that took place recently were a mere ink on paper, and enhance the possibility of entering a new war.
Specialists and observers of the Libyan public affairs believe that the stages of dialogue between the actors have wasted time on their regional conflicts and the distribution of positions geographically over the national interest. And the probability of the collapse of the dialogue and return to square one in which Libya is confined, increases every day, with the flow of weapons and mercenaries, coinciding with the absence of a clear political vision and real seriousness in ending the suffering, which the Libyans are paying for in the east, west, south and center.
Egypt in Libya: Does Egypt disengage with the Saudi-Emirati axis?
In this context, an official Egyptian delegation visited Tripoli this week, in the first visit of its kind since 2014. It held talks with officials in the “ Government of National Accord”, amid Turkish threats to the commander of the Libyan National Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, threatening the return of war. The Egyptian delegation included officials In the General Intelligence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Egyptian Committee concerned with the Libyan file. It held talks with senior officials of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s government. The Minister of Interior in the GNA, Fathi Bashagha, said that he discussed with the Egyptian delegation common security challenges and ways to enhance security cooperation between the two countries and support the ceasefire agreement.
The agenda of the Egyptian delegation included a visit to the headquarters of the Egyptian embassy, which has been closed for years in Tripoli, which appeared as an indication of the possibility of reopening it. And media affiliated with the Government of National Accord quoted a diplomatic source as saying that the visit of the Egyptian delegation is the first beginning towards an attempt to restore diplomatic relations to their normal form, pointing out to the Libyan side’s request to activate the joint agreement related to the four freedoms, in addition to air navigation, reopening airspace towards Cairo airport, and providing consular services from inside Tripoli. The talks did not include any meeting with Salah Al Namroush, the Defense Minister of the Government of National Accord, or its head, Faiz al-Sarraj, who was absent from the Turkish Defense Minister’s visit to Tripoli.
In addition, sources who asked not to be identified, said that Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who visited Tripoli for hours, briefed officials of the Government of National Accord on the war plan targeting the National Army, led by Haftar, in Sirte and Jufrah. They added that despite regional and international efforts to prevent it from breaking out, the war “came very close” and that it might be just around the corner.
However, regarding the Egyptian visit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Libyan Government of National Accord, Mohamed Taher Sialah, announced that the visit of the high-level Egyptian delegation to Tripoli last week was very late, despite its importance. Sayala said, during a joint press conference held in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that the negotiations between them touched on the results of that “important visit”, noting at the same time that the visit “was so late” and he called on the intervening countries to the conflict in Libya to review their policies regarding the situation in this country.
The crimes which is against human rights in Libya: The abducted judges
The Ministry of Justice in the Government of National Accord (GNA) said that it is following with “great concern” reports that the judge in the Gallo District Court, Mustafa Issa Landi, has disappeared since last Friday, December 26, 2020, while he was on his way from the city of Kufra to the city of Gallo.
On the human rights level, humanitarian organizations announced the loss of the trail of 13 illegal immigrants in the Mediterranean Sea, after they left Libya over a boat. The Italian branch of the German “Sea Watch” organization said: Another day passed without any news of these people, who were sailing in their boat on a navigation route in the middle of the sea.