The Guardian view on Egyptian democracy: it would be a good idea

July 3rd, 2013 coup d’état announcement by Sisi prior to announcement by Obama and John Kerry on behalf of the US of the Egyptian ‘Democratic Roadmap’

The Guardian Editor writes: Egypt is at present a sham democracy. Real power resides with the army, which has lurked in the shadows but overseen an often brutal crackdown on opponents since 2013. The military came to power by toppling the Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, and killing more than 800 protesters in Cairo’s Rabaa Square. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump lavishes praise on Mr Sisi’s government. Thankfully the US State Department has fingered its “unlawful killings and torture”. Last week Egyptian authorities executed five inmates – four of whom had links with the Muslim Brotherhood – despite credible claims of them having unfair trials. This looks like a warning to rivals that Egyptian politics is deadly rather than deadly serious.

Human Rights watch writes: Public criticism of the government remained effectively banned in Egypt in 2016. Police arrested scores of people in connection with protests, many preemptively. Authorities ordered travel bans and asset freezes against prominent human rights organizations and their directors and brought criminal charges against the head of the Press Syndicate and the country’s top anti-corruption official. Parliament proposed a new law regulating nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that would effectively end independent human rights work in the country.

Members of the security forces, particularly the Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency, continued to routinely torture detainees and forcibly disappeared hundreds of people with little or no accountability for violations of the law. The disappearance, torture, and death of Italian doctoral researcher Giulio Regeni, probably at the hands of security services, highlighted these abuses and caused a diplomatic rift between Egypt and Italy.

Investigations by National Security officers, often without any hard evidence, formed the basis of many of the 7,400 or more military trials of civilians brought since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree widening the scope of military jurisdiction in 2014.

Conditions in detention remained harsh. The quasi-official National Council for Human Rights continued to report that prisons and other detention facilities were severely overcrowded. Conditions were particularly harsh in Cairo’s Scorpion Prison, where inmates, most of them political prisoners, suffered abuses at the hands of Interior Ministry officers, including beatings, force feedings, deprivation of contact with relatives and lawyers, and interference in medical care that may have contributed to at least six deaths in 2015.