On April 23, Egypt’s National Election Authority announced that a package of amendments to the country’s 2014 constitution had been approved in a national referendum.
Mai El-Sadany is the legal and judicial director at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP), where her work focuses on building out a program that works to contribute to a stronger legal culture in and on the Middle East. Her published work has covered legal and constitutional issues in Egypt, human rights issues in Syria, transitional justice in the Middle East, and the split between Sudan and South Sudan. She holds a J.D. and a certificate in refugees and humanitarian emergencies from the Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in political science from Stanford University.
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This weekend marked the fifth time that Russia has used its veto power on a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Syria since the country’s uprising began on March 15, 2011. The veto blocked a French-introduced resolution that demanded a halt to airstrikes in Aleppo and called for access to humanitarian aid.
In the more than five years since Syrian calls for self-determination first began, the world has witnessed the most egregious humanitarian crisis since World War II unfold. Over 400,000 people have been killed, 14 million people have been driven from their homes, and more than 50 percent of Syria’s critical infrastructure has been destroyed.
Despite continued reports of torture, harrowing tales of abuse in detention, and haunting anecdotes of forced disappearances, Egyptian authorities seem wholly unwilling to contend with the human rights violations that have long plagued the country’s security sector. Rather, authorities seem insistent to instead embark upon yet another wave of crackdown against civil society, taking measures to constrain the activities of the players who document, report, advocate, and litigate within the country’s anti-torture scene and even more broadly, the entire human rights movement.
When Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji was acquitted of “harming public morality” in January 2016, civil society and the artistic community rejoiced at the judiciary’s decision reinforcing the country’s constitutional commitment to freedom of artistic and literary creativity. The celebrations were premature.
In the last few weeks, the world has confronted horrifying photographs of children with sunken eyes and emaciated bodies and haunting anecdotes of men eating strawberry leaves after having not had real meals in months. These images told of the mountain-town of Madaya, a Syrian village of 40,000 that has been under siege since July 2015 by a combination of Syrian troops and Hezbollah militants.
After months in the making, Egypt's new counterterrorism law was ratified by President Abdul Fattah El-Sisi and published in the August 15, 2015 edition of the Official Gazette. The law comes in to color already-existing terrorism legislation in the Criminal Procedure Code, the Penal Code, and the Terrorist Entities law.