According to its constitution, Egypt is a republic governed by an elected president and bicameral legislature, with the upper house reconstituted in 2020 as the Senate after a six-year absence. Officially the president is the head of state while the prime minister is appointed by the president as the head of government and appoints the cabinet. Presidential elections in 2018 saw challengers to incumbent President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi withdraw ahead of the election, citing personal decisions, political pressure, legal troubles, and unfair competition, and in some cases, they were arrested for alleged abuses of candidacy rules. Domestic and international organizations expressed concern that government limitations on freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and expression severely constrained broad participation in the political process. A progovernment coalition won an overwhelming majority of seats in multistage, multiround elections for parliament’s reconstituted Senate and House of Representatives. Domestic and international observers said government authorities professionally administered parliamentary elections in accordance with the country’s laws and that their results were credible. Observers noted restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly, political association, and expression significantly inhibited the political climate surrounding the elections.
The Interior Ministry supervises law enforcement and internal security, including the Public Security Sector Police, the Central Security Force, the National Security Agency, and the Passports, Immigration, and Nationality Administration. The Public Security Sector Police are responsible for law enforcement nationwide. The Central Security Force protects infrastructure and is responsible for crowd control. The National Security Agency, which succeeded the State Security Investigation Service in 2011, is responsible for internal security threats and counterterrorism, along with other security services. The Passports, Immigration, and Nationality Administration is responsible for issuing travel documents, processing immigration requests, and managing citizenship issues. The armed forces report to the minister of defense but may also assist police in protecting vital infrastructure during a state of emergency. The armed forces operate in North Sinai as part of a broader national counterterrorism operation with general detention authority. The Border Guard Forces, under the Ministry of Defense, are responsible for border control. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were reports that members of the security forces committed numerous abuses.
In 2021 President Sisi ended a state of emergency but ratified legislation providing similar powers, including allowing the president to take “appropriate measures” not to exceed six months to maintain public order and security (e.g., curfews or forced evacuations) in the event of a natural disaster or terrorism event, and authorizing the military to assist local authorities in protecting critical infrastructure. In April President Sisi reactivated the Presidential Pardon Commission, leading to the release of 850-1,000 political prisoners through the end of the year, according to estimates by local human rights organizations and members of the Presidential Pardon Commission.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents, and by terrorist groups; enforced disappearance by state security; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners or detainees; transnational repression against individuals in another country; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious abuses in a conflict, including reportedly enforced disappearances, abductions, physical abuses, and unlawful or widespread civilian deaths or harm; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including arrests or prosecutions of journalists, censorship, and the enforcement of or threat to enforce criminal libel laws to limit expression; serious restrictions on internet freedom; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws on the organization, funding, or operation of nongovernmental and civil society organizations; restrictions on freedom of movement; serious and unreasonable restrictions on political participation; serious government restrictions on domestic and international human rights organizations; gender-based violence and a lack of investigation and accountability for such crimes; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex persons; and significant restrictions on workers’ freedom of association.
The government failed to consistently punish or prosecute officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in government, including for corruption. In most cases, the government did not comprehensively investigate allegations of human rights abuses, including most incidents of violence by security forces, contributing to an environment of impunity.
Attacks by terrorist organizations and other armed groups resulted in unlawful killings, including in North Sinai. Terrorist groups conducted deadly attacks on government, civilian, and security targets. Authorities investigated terrorist attacks and prosecuted alleged perpetrators. Terrorists and other armed groups also abducted civilians in North Sinai. There were incidents of societal sectarian violence against Coptic Christians.
For Further Reference
Full U.S. Department of State Human Rights Country Report
U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Country Report
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Annual Report Chapter on Egypt
U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative
Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
Human Rights Watch World Report Country Chapter
Amnesty International Annual Report Country Chapter
Freedom House Freedom in the World Country Report