Thursday, May 30, 2019


The authorities continued to unduly restrict freedom of expression by arresting, detaining and harassing activists and government critics. A new penal code contained harsh penalties for the peaceful exercise of a range of human rights. Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice. The death penalty remained in force; no executions were reported.

BACKGROUND In January, hundreds of Omanis took to the streets to protest peacefully against high unemployment rates, prompting
the government to temporarily freeze recruitment of foreign workers in the private sector and launch a plan to secure some 25,000 jobs for nationals. It warned it would prosecute private establishments that failed to comply with the government’s “Omanization” policies.

Oman maintained a neutral stance in the regional crisis in which Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates severed relations with Qatar.

The authorities carried out waves of arbitrary arrests of residents in Musandam province. Between April and July, tens of residents were summoned for interrogation for electronically circulating information about the history of the province. Many were released several days later. Five men, all from
the al-Shuhuh tribe and including a national of the United Arab Emirates, were arrested in May and April and held incommunicado for several months. The authorities did not disclose the legal basis for their arrest, citing only vague “national security” grounds. The five men’s trials began in July. The accused were not permitted to speak to their lawyers or receive or review any documents relating to the case before trial, violating international standards of fairness. Between August and October, a court in Muscat sentenced the five men to life imprisonment on charges that included “using information technology to prejudice the security and unity of the country and its territories”.

In January, a new penal code entered into force. It substantially increased jail terms prescribed for the exercise of some rights and contains vaguely worded provisions that give sweeping powers to the authorities. For instance, Article 97 considers speech against the sultan, the head of state, a crime against national security and punishable with between three and seven years’ imprisonment. Similarly, Article 102 provides for imprisonment for between three months and three years for disparaging foreign heads of state or state representatives visiting Oman. Other overly broad articles weakened the protection of activists, bloggers and dissidents. Blasphemy provisions criminalize the peaceful exercise of the rights to both freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief.
In April, the Internal Security Forces detained online activist Youssef Sultan al-Arimi for two weeks for views he published on social media. On 28 April, internet activist Hassan al-Basham, whose three-year prison sentence was confirmed by a court of appeal in November 2017 on charges related to online expression, died in prison after his health deteriorated. In June, the authorities pardoned and released writer and cinema critic Abdullah Habib, who was imprisoned in April for “blasphemy” and “using the internet for what would prejudice public order”.
The authorities also hindered journalists’ access to information on human rights issues.

 The new penal code also threatens to stamp out civic space by criminalizing forms of association “aimed at combating the political, economic, social or security principles of the state”.
The right to freedom of peaceful assembly also continued to be tightly controlled. At least 30 people were arrested for protesting against unemployment in January but later released. In May, the public prosecution affirmed it would take legal measures against tribal assemblies and anyone who assists or promotes these on social media.

Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice. They are not accorded equal rights in law in relation to matters such as divorce, child custody, inheritance and passing their nationality on to their children. Genderbased violence and marital rape are not prohibited by law.

Same-sex sexual relations continued to be criminalized under the new penal code issued in January.

 Amnesty International received several consistent reports of mistreatment in detention, including beatings and medical neglect. Severe physical abuse, including beatings with metal pipes, were reported at the headquarters of the criminal investigations unit in the Qurum area of Muscat. Amnesty International also received credible allegations of unsanitary conditions and medical neglect of seriously ill prisoners at Samail prison in the mountains of northern Muscat.

Migrant workers continued to face exploitation and abuse as a result of the restrictive kafala (sponsorship) system, that ties them to their employers. Migrant workers depend on their employers, who also act as their sponsors, to enter the country and cannot change jobs without their permission. This severely limits their ability to escape abusive working conditions and facilitates exploitation. Domestic workers continued to bear the brunt of this system and remained excluded from the protection of the labour law.

The new penal code retained the death penalty for a range of crimes. No executions were reported during the year.
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Tuesday, May 28, 2019


The rights to freedom of expression and assembly were heavily restricted, mainly in relation to peaceful protests in the northern cities of Al Hoceima and Jerada. Courts sentenced journalists, protesters and human rights defenders to long prison sentences following grossly unfair trials. Authorities banned or limited the activities of several associations. In Western Sahara, Moroccan authorities, which administer the non-self-governing territory, used unnecessary force to disperse peaceful demonstrations.
Migrants and refugees continued to face unlawful arrest, detention and forcible return to their countries of origin. Despite flaws, new laws improved protection of women from violence and strengthened the rights of domestic workers.

The UN Security Council prolonged the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for six months in both April and October without adding a human rights component.
In December, the parliament adopted a law restoring compulsory military service for men and women, without adequate provision for conscientious objection.
The European Commission increased its financial support to Morocco aimed at containing migration.

Journalists, citizen journalists and human rights defenders were sentenced to prison terms for expressing their views peacefully online. Prosecutors used disproportionate and inappropriate security-related charges based on offences in the Penal Code and counterterrorism legislation.
In February, a court in Al Hoceima sentenced lawyer Abdessadak El Bouchattaoui to two years in prison and a fine for online posts in which he criticized the use of excessive force by the authorities during sustained social justice protests in the northern Rif region in 2017, commonly known as Hirak El-Rif. Later in February, the same court sentenced Nawal Benaissa to a 10-month suspended prison term and a fine for online comments in which she criticized the authorities’ approach to Hirak El-Rif.

In November, a Casablanca court convicted Taoufik Bouachrine, director of Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper, of sexual assault charges that he has always denied and sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
In June, a Casablanca court convicted journalist Rabie Lablak and online citizen journalists Mohamed El Asrihi, of Rif24. com, and Fouad Essaidi, of Facebook page Awar TV, to five years in prison in relation to their coverage of Hirak El-Rif. The same court convicted Hamid El Mahdaoui, director, to three years’ imprisonment for “failing to report a security threat” in connection with the same protests. On 14 November, a Rabat appeal court confirmed the five-year jail sentence against Hirak El-Rif protester El Mortada Iamrachen for posts he published on Facebook.
Seven people, including academic Maati Monjib, outspoken journalist Ali Anouzla and other journalists and activists, remained on trial at the end of the year on charges including “threatening state security” for promoting a mobile application for citizen journalism and “advocating terrorism” for an article Ali Anouzla published in 2013.
In June, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on Morocco to immediately release Saharawi Equipe Media journalist Mohamed El Benbari, imprisoned since 2015, on the grounds that his detention violated his rights to freedom of expression and association and to a fair trial.

Authorities imposed restrictions on freedom of association by banning or limiting the activities of several associations.
Between January and June, authorities prevented at least five activities related to human rights education that were being organized by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) from taking place. In June they banned a conference on individual freedoms being organized by another NGO, the Democracy and Liberties Collective, which was due to be held in Casablanca. On 26 December, authorities issued a dissolution order against Racines, a cultural association based in Casablanca, after it hosted in its office the recording of three episodes of the controversial web-based chat show 1 dîner, 2 cons.
The authorities continued to restrict the access to the country of international organizations, including Amnesty International, to conduct research on human rights.

Authorities banned demonstrations or used excessive or unnecessary force at least twice in 2018. Courts used the law on public gatherings to sentence peaceful protesters to harsh prison terms.
On 13 March, the interior minister banned protests in the mining city of Jerada after a series of protests following the December 2017 deaths of two brothers in a mine. The following morning security forces violently dispersed a sit-in by protesters; five police trucks drove into the crowd and ran over at least one individual, paralysing 15-yearold Abdelmoula Ziker’s lower body. No investigation was opened. Authorities prosecuted at least 70 people in relation to the peaceful protest.
In June, Moroccan police violently dispersed a peaceful protest in Laayoune during a visit by the UN special envoy for Western Sahara. In September, Moroccan police used unnecessary force against peaceful protesters opposing an EUMorocco fisheries deal that was agreed in August; the EU Court of Justice had ruled in February that the deal did not apply to the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara.

Courts continued to convict activists after grossly unfair trials. In Al Hoceima, Oujda and Casablanca, courts relied heavily on “confessions” extracted under duress. On 26 June, a Casablanca court convicted 53 prisoners detained in relation with Hirak El-Rif; the sentences ranged from fines to 20 years in prison. During the trial, the court did not exclude evidence allegedly obtained by torture or other ill-treatment and refused to hear more than 50 defence witnesses. The court held the prisoners in a highsided box with tinted glass, a practice which is degrading and undermines the presumption of innocence.
By the end of the year, the authorities had yet to establish a National Preventive Mechanism against torture, as provided for by the law on the reorganization of the National Human Rights Council (CNDH), adopted in February, and by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, ratified by Morocco in 2014.

Prison authorities moved detainees connected with protests between prisons and to prisons far from their home cities as a form of reprisal.
Hirak El-Rif protester Achraf El Yakhloufi was held in Ain Sbaa 1 Local Prison, known as Okacha prison, near Casablanca, over 550km from Al Hoceima, his home town. In August, he was transferred to another prison between the cities of Taza and Rabat for nine days after he began a hunger strike to protest against the prison administration’s refusal to allow him family visits.
In September, Okacha prison officials moved prisoner of conscience Nasser Zefzafi, a leader of Hirak El-Rif, out of solitary confinement, in which he had been held since his arrest in May 2017.

From July onward, the authorities launched a widespread and discriminatory crackdown on thousands of sub-Saharan migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, especially in the north of Morocco, raiding neighbourhoods and informal settlements inhabited by refugees and migrants. Thousands of sub-Saharan migrants, including children and pregnant women, were unlawfully arrested during the raids and transported to remote areas in the south of the country or close to the Algerian border. On 12 August, two sub-Saharan nationals arrested in Tangiers died during their transfer to the south. In September, dozens of sub-Saharan migrants, including minors, were detained without due process in the basement of the police headquarters in Tangiers for at least four weeks. According to the AMDH, dozens of sub-Saharan migrants arrested in the north were held in an informal detention centre in Arekmane, close to Nador,
Security forces continued to co-operate with the Spanish authorities in the summary expulsion and push-back of migrants and asylum-seekers from Spain to Morocco. Between August and October, the Spanish authorities expelled as a group at least 171 sub-Saharan migrants and potential asylum-seekers to Morocco after they crossed into the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Moroccan authorities forcibly returned dozens of those arrested and expelled from Spain to their countries of origin, including Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Senegal, in some cases in violation of the principle of nonrefoulement.
On 25 September, the Moroccan navy intercepted a boat with at least 15 Moroccan nationals in Moroccan waters close to the northern town of Fnideq. They shot at them to make them stop the boat,
apparently believing they were migrants seeking to reach Spain. A woman was killed and three men were injured.

A law to combat violence against women came into effect in September. It introduces new offences, increases existing penalties in cases of spousal or family violence, proposes new measures to protect survivors of violence during and after judicial proceedings, and establishes new bodies to co-ordinate and complement judicial and governmental efforts to combat violence against women. However, it fails to define rape in line with international standards or recognize marital rape. It also perpetuates derogatory gender stereotypes and does not address obstacles to accessing justice and services for survivors of violence owing to the continuing criminalization of consensual sexual relations outside marriage.
Women continued to be subjected to sexual and gender-based violence and were discriminated against in practice. Abortion remains criminalized unless the health of the mother is at risk, and is subject to spousal consent, which restricts women’s autonomous decision-making. In all other cases, women seeking or undergoing abortion and health professionals alike risk imprisonment and other penalties.

RIGHTS OF LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER AND INTERSEX (LGBTI) PEOPLE Same-sex sexual relations remained a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison under Article 489 of the Penal Code. LGBTI people continued to face police harassment. Victims of
homophobic and transphobic attacks reported being afraid to approach the police to file complaints because of the risk of arrest under Article 489.

 In October, parliament passed a new law on domestic workers. It stipulates that domestic workers are entitled to written contracts, maximum working hours, guaranteed days off, paid vacations and a specified minimum wage. It sets the minimum age for domestic workers at 18, with a phase-in period of five years, during which 16- and 17-yearold domestic workers can still work. Employers who violate these provisions will face financial penalties, with prison sentences for repeat offenders in some cases. Despite these gains, the new law still offers less protection to domestic workers than the Moroccan Labour Code, which does not refer to domestic workers.
Courts continued to hand down death sentences. No executions had been carried out since 1993.

The Polisario Front again failed to hold to account those responsible for committing human rights abuses in the 1970s and 1980s in the camps that have been under its control since that period.
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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Gaps in addressing gender equality

Gender equality measures are integrated and implemented within the five ESIF to a varying degree, both in the Funds themselves and at Member State level.
Within each fund, the following was observed:
 ƒ Gender mainstreaming and references to gender equality objectives are often highlighted only in the chapter on “horizontal themes”, without further impact on the content of the programmes. ƒ Gender equality is often only addressed by describing inclusion of gender experts in the programming process and in the provision of technical expertise.
ƒ Information about gender gaps and inequalities, along with means of addressing these gaps, is insufficient. ƒ Although a large number of OPs state that a gender perspective is applicable, and reference is made to
the relevant policy framework of the particular Member State, the majority of OPs lack a gender analysis that substantiates the contextual information of the programmes.
ƒ When gender in/equalities are dealt with, the focus is on remunerated and non-remunerated work, care services and education.
ƒ Where gender objectives are set, these are seldom based on a gender gap analysis and are thus not followed by gender-aware indicators.
ƒ Within the full project cycle, most focus is put on gender equality in the analysis and planning phase, with less attention paid to gender in the implementation and monitoring phase. Evaluation reports provide little information on gender equality.
In general, the gender assessment of ESIF 2014-2020 programmes conducted in 11 Member States pointed to a major gender equality gap in the programming cycle within specific objectives and planned/funded priorities/interventions/actions as specified in OPs.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Enhancing the EU’s economic objectives through gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting

International, EU and Member State commitments to gender equality cannot be achieved without fully integrating gender impact analysis and gender budgeting tools into the macroeconomic toolbox which guides the EU’s economic governance. The benefits have the potential to be transformative.
EIGE has made a solid economic case for how gender equality would increase the EU’s overall economic and social benefits, using a well-recognised macroeconomic model of the EU economy (E3ME). The figures are staggering. Reducing gender gaps would lead to substantial gains in employment and economic growth and would positively affect the current demographic downturn of the EU. Although a number of Member States are now taking a more accelerated route (which includes mandatory reporting of the gender pay gap, imposing sanctions on firms, legislative measures, etc.), more decisive steps and policies are needed for effective closure of the gender gaps. The integration of the unpaid care economy into macroeconomic modelling (for example using the inputs from micro simulation models or unpaid care work satellite accounts) is similarly desirable if all of the gendered aspects of European society are to be effectively captured. The economic benefits of gender equality in the EU are summarised in Table 1 below.
EIGE’s assessment of the economic case of gender equality clearly demonstrates that reducing gender inequality contributes to higher rates of economic growth, increased competitiveness and greater macroeconomic stability.25 Equality of opportunity in all markets - not only the labour market - is critical in enabling women to take full advantage of improved macroeconomic conditions. For this to happen, macroeconomic policies must consider the impact on women, particularly in light of prescribed gender roles, including women’s disproportionate burden of care work. Figure 2 below presents estimated values of contribution of unpaid household work for a selection of EU Member States, presented as share of GDP in 2015.
Despite efforts to integrate gender equality into the economic and social policies of the EU, gender analysis of macroeconomic policy remains weak. The design of policies and their budgetary implications should consider the potentially harsh short-term effects of economic austerity measures on women, in addition to other medium and longer-term effects, to avoid exacerbating gender inequalities. Gender differences should be taken into account in assessments of sources of economic growth and in examining the impact of labour and product market changes, including structural adjustments, as was the case in the most recent economic crisis.26 Systematic differences in gender roles that may lead to different macroeconomic outcomes should be acknowledged, particularly for important macroeconomic aggregates, such as private consumption, savings and investments, and risk-taking behaviour.

Macroeconomic and monetary policies need to consider the impact of EU budgetary controls in Eurozone countries most affected by the economic crisis. Cuts in public services have not only affected women’s employment but also women’s access to public services, thereby increasing women’s unpaid care work. The implementation of neoliberal policy solutions to the crisis (i.e. imposed public sector cuts) further reinforced traditional gender roles and gendered division of labour by shifting the responsibility of care for children, the elderly and persons with disabilities from the public sector to families – primarily to women.33
When economic targets and reforms are agreed without full gender impact assessments, there is a risk that these may further undermine the achievement of gender equality. In attaining some of these economic targets and reforms, policies and measures may result in restrictions enforced upon Member States, which are contrary to the goals of reducing poverty and gender inequality. For example, recommendations to reduce corporate taxation, increase taxation on housing, or flexibility in the labour market may lead to low paid and low-quality jobs, including for highly trained workers in some EU countries.34 The gendered consequences of this could take many forms, such as women being fired for getting pregnant35, or where fiscal reforms lifted restrictions/disincentives on secondary earners (often women), thus creating low paid jobs. Further research on labour market policies and gender equality policies is needed to ensure complementarity and increase the efficiency and efficacy of EU budget objectives.

25 EIGE (2017a). op cit.
26 Austerity measures must take into account the unpaid care economy and incorporate it into the measurements of the main economic indicators as well as in the formulation of the fiscal and budgetary policies that emanate from the analysis. Although not part of the main focus of EIGE’s research on gender budgeting presented here, this issue permeates almost every aspect of economic matters affecting gender equality.
33 Karamessini, M. & Rubery, J. (eds.) (2014). Women and Austerity. The Economic Crisis and the Future for Gender Equality. London and New York: Routledge; Pearson, R. & Elson, D. (2015). Transcending the Impact of the Financial Crisis in the United Kingdom: Towards Plan F-A Feminist Economic Strategy. Feminist Review, 109(1), pp. 8–30; Kantola, J. & Lombardo, E. (Eds.) (2017). Gender and the Economic Crisis in Europe. Politics, Institutions and Intersectionality. Palgrave Macmillan. 34 The European Parliament (2012) study, The multiannual financial framework 2014-2020 from a gender equality perspective, concedes that, “the context of the MFF 20142020 planning period is characterised by the interplay between long-term trends (such as ageing and technological change) and the exit trajectories of the current financial crisis. The correction of low employment participation on the part of women can be a factor in the simultaneous achievement of seemingly unrelated and possibly antithetical targets – competitiveness, equity, cohesion and economic growth” (p. 11). 35 For example, the 2013 European Commission report on the impact of the economic crisis on the situation of women and men and on gender equality policies states that the rights of pregnant women to maternity leave and benefits have been curtailed and that discrimination against pregnant women has been documented in at least four EU Member States, namely “[i]n Greece, Ireland and Portugal, Labour Inspections recorded a surge in the infringement of rights protecting pregnant women and mothers of young children during the crisis” (p. 17)
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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Conceptual framework on gender budgeting

Based on the widely-used definition of gender budgeting of the Council of Europe,24 gender budgeting is an application of gender mainstreaming in the budgetary process and means a gender-based assessment of budgets, incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process and restructuring revenue and expenditure so as to promote gender equality. In short, gender budgeting is a strategy and a process with the long-term aim of achieving gender equality goals.
Full application of gender budgeting within EU budget processes means full integration of gender perspectives at all stages of the budget and planning processes. Key elements of practical work on gender budgeting in the context of this conceptual approach include: (1) gender-based assessment, which means taking stock and making visible the impacts by means of gender budget analysis as a starting point of gender budgeting work; (2) working towards changes to promote gender equality based on the results of the analysis and potentially identified gender gaps and shortcomings; and (3) organise gender budgeting work through a combination of governmental and non-governmental actors, as analysis of practical experience of gender budgeting work worldwide has repeatedly shown that this supports the achievement of good results.

3.1.  Integration of gender perspectives at all stages of the budget and planning processes
Full implementation of gender budgeting means integrating gender perspectives at all stages, including multiannual and annual budget processes. As budgeting is closely linked to strategic planning, a comprehensive gender budgeting approach should cover the strategic planning process as well. At each of the key stages (planning and budget preparations, negotiation and adoption, implementation, audit and evaluation), there is a range of established gen
der budgeting procedures on how to implement gender budgeting. The conceptual approach for the analysis that follows is one of gradual integration of gender budgeting at all stages of the budget process.

3.2.  Gender budget analysis as a key element of gender budget work
Gender budget analysis is a key element of gender budgeting work and is often the starting point for further work to promote women’s rights and gender equality through budgetary policies. Gender budget analysis contributes to transparency on budget distribution and impacts, which is a central principle of good governance. Different levels and dimensions of gender budget analysis have been identified, namely budget expenditure and revenue, macroeconomic policies and effectiveness of service delivery and investments. In this context, a broad range of different methods and tools of analysis exists, which are frequently adapted to the context of actual gender budgeting work. Based on this approach, this report puts forward recommendations on how to strengthen gender budget analysis in the context of the EU budget-related processes.

3.3.  Gender budget process: towards restructuring and change
Gender budgeting involves a process of change. Gender budget analysis is not an achievement in itself but, rather, one key element in a broader process. A gender budget analysis identifies gender gaps and shortcomings, which serve as a basis for formulating objectives to tackle those gender gaps and gender inequalities and improve gender equality, as well as for defining appropriate indicators to measure progress. This is then the basis for establishing activities and changes in budget allocations (or revenue collection) to achieve the desired outcomes. Regular monitoring based on the indicators defined, as well as evaluation and in-depth progress reviews are important inputs in new planning and budgeting cycles.

3.4.  Gender budget work involving government actors and external stakeholders
Even though the key responsibility for implementing gender budgeting within public budgets and public administrations lies with the regular actors involved in the public
planning and budgeting processes, both literature and practice have shown that gender budget work is most effective where it involves actors inside government alongside external government stakeholders. These different actors have complementary roles in contributing to full gender budgeting implementation. In addition to transparency, participation is another underpinning principle of good governance, thus participation of different stakeholders is also an element of good gender budgeting. The report recommends that support be given to actors with direct and key responsibilities relating to budget processes, who also, therefore, have key responsibilities for gender budget implementation in these processes. In addition, it puts forward proposals for the involvement of other stakeholders considered important in the context of effective gender budgeting
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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Legal and policy framework for gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting

Gender equality is a fundamental value of the European Union and is critical to the achievement of the goals set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Mainstreaming the principle of equality between women and men in all of its activities represents an overall aim for the EU. This is set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), whereby “The Union shall aim to promote equality between men and women in all its activities” (Article 8). Gender equality is similarly enshrined in Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. These provisions form the basis for the EU and Member States’ roles in the development and implementation of gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting, and are further reinforced in the 2017 European Pillar of Social Rights.
The European Commission’s Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019 sets out a framework for gender mainstreaming in the Commission and for the implementation of coherent gender equality policies in the Member States in five areas:
(1) Equal economic independence of women and men;
(2) Equal pay for work of equal value;
(3) Equality in decision-making;
(4) Ending gender-based violence;
(5) Promoting gender equality beyond the EU.18
Specifically, the Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality adopts a dual approach, with key actions in the five areas and integrating a gender perspective:
“[into] every aspect of EU intervention (preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, legal measures and spending programmes), i.e. gender mainstreaming. This means assessing the impact of EU action on both women and men and taking responsibility for any readjustment necessary, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated” (p. 20).19
The Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality also states that the European Semester will be used to review the advances made towards some of its key objectives and priorities. Finally, in line with Treaty obligations, it specifies that a gender equality perspective will be taken into account in preparing the post-2020 generation of EU funding programmes.
Under the European Pact for Gender Equality 2011-2020,20 the European Council reiterates that equality between women and men is a fundamental value of the EU and an important driver for economic growth, prosperity and competitiveness. It reaffirms the EU’s commitment to closing gender gaps in employment, education and social protection, promoting better work-life balance for women and men, and combating all forms of violence against women. The Council also reaffirms its commitment to governance through gender mainstreaming by integrating the gender perspective into all policy areas. In relation to macroeconomic policy the Council encourages Member States to apply a gender equality perspective and promote gender equality policies in their National Reform Programmes (NRPs), especially under the employment guidelines. The Pact encourages Member States to make appropriate use of agreed gender equality indicators developed under the Joint Assessment Framework and the follow-up of the Beijing Platform for Action (BfPA). The Commission and the Council are invited to incorporate a gender equality perspective into the Annual Growth Survey (AGS), the Country Opinions and the Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs).21 Finally, the progress made in the Pact is discussed annually by ministers at European Council level.

18 European Commission (2016). Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
19 Ibid. p. 20.
20 European Council (2011). Council conclusions of 7 March 2011 on European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020). (2011/C 155/02).
21 Ibid.

22 The full text and ongoing process of implementation can be found at: In 1995, the Madrid European Council acknowledged the EU’s commitment to the BPfA and requested an annual review of the BPfA’s areas of concern in all Member States, with a full review to be conducted every five years. In addition, EIGE carries out studies on each of the 12 critical Areas of Concern of the Platform, which are available at:
23 Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (A/RES/71/313), p.10.
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Tuesday, May 21, 2019


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Monday, May 20, 2019


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Sunday, May 19, 2019


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Saturday, May 18, 2019


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Friday, May 17, 2019


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Thursday, May 16, 2019

EU: Our Future starts Now!

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Manifesto for a Feminist Europe

 In May 2019, European citizens will vote to decide on the new composition of the European Parliament. The outcome of the elections will also have an impact on the face of the new European Commission and will have an influence on European politics, taking on the present and shaping the future of women and girls in Europe. Though we would like to believe otherwise, data show that women are still very much second-class citizens in the European Union (EU). While most countries move in the right direction, some EU Member States have actually gone backwards and none has reached full gender equality. At this rate of progress, equality will not be seen in our or in the next generations’ lifetimes. This is simply not acceptable. (EIGE data).

With the campaign 50/50: Women for Europe – Europe for Women, the European Women’s Lobby wants to achieve parity in the European Parliament, but also amongst the Commissioners and regarding the top EU jobs. We also want the EU to realise that ensuring equality between women and men and integrating a gender perspective in all policy and financial frameworks is an obligation of the European Union as per the EU Treaties.

We launch our Manifesto for the elections, which is a comprehensive summary of our feminist vision for the future of Europe. We want women to have the same opportunities as men in every situation, to have the place they deserve in decision-making and leadership positions. We want women to be totally independent economically, which is vital for every woman. We want to put an end to the violence women face every day in every part of Europe and we want women to be safe and live in dignity. We want women to be able to keep on fighting for their own rights by getting the funding they need and deserve for their organisations.

Through our recommendations, both for the national and European levels, we hope and strive for a feminist Europe, as we believe, as our president Gwendoline Lefebvre said, that today and in May “Women and girls will seize this unique democratic moment to drive forward an equal, inclusive, diverse and democratic Europe where no one is left behind”.
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Mainstreaming gender into the EU budget and macroeconomic policy framework 2

Since its inception, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has worked to increase knowledge, provide tools and encourage mutual learning on gender mainstreaming in policies implemented by the European Union (EU) and by individual Member States.11 Gender budgeting (GB) is one of the most important tools for mainstreaming gender equality perspectives in decision-making and budgeting processes, as well as for assessing how budgetary and fiscal policies can enhance gender equality outcomes at EU and Member State levels.

This report focuses on gender budgeting as a gender mainstreaming tool to promote gender-responsive macroeconomic policies and budgetary processes in the EU. Macroeconomic policies often fail to take account of gender differences and their impact on gender inequality; they tend to focus on economic growth, while largely neglecting the benefits that the redistribution of resources and investments in services such as childcare and eldercare may bring to gender equality or to reducing poverty. Macroeconomic policies do not consider the impact of women’s unpaid care work nor do they record it in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) accounts. In the EU, it is estimated that the value of unpaid domestic work and unpaid family care work taken together ranges between 27.1 % and 37 % of EU GDP.12 Despite these gaps, there is substantial evidence to show that more gender-equal societies are a foundation for economic growth.13

The report draws on the initial mapping of gender budgeting initiatives and budgeting processes at EU and EU Member State levels carried out by EIGE in 2016. The mapping exercise examined the full range of options available for mainstreaming gender budgeting elements into existing processes and policies to ensure improved efficiency and effectiveness of economic and social policies.14 In 2017 and 2018, in order to promote and enhance gender mainstreaming and the use of gender budgeting in the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), EIGE conducted research intended to contribute to a more effective and sustainable design and implementation of gender budgeting as a tool for gender mainstreaming in the ESIF.

Based on the assessment of the implementation of gender budgeting in the EU’s budgetary processes (including the ESIF), the report links EU macroeconomic policy and the achievement of gender equality through gender budgeting.
In recent years, gender budgeting has received greater attention as a tool for gender-responsive macroeconomic policy-making. Across the EU, several Member States have been involved in a range of gender budgeting initiatives at national, regional and local level.15 Despite renewed calls and continuous international commitments to introduce gender mainstreaming in policy-making and budgeting at EU and Member State levels,16 progress to date has been limited.
EIGE’s assessment of the implementation of gender budgeting shows that until 2012, eight EU Member States had a legal obligation to implement gender budgeting or gender impact assessments of ministerial budgets (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Finland).17 The fact that not all EU Member States implement gender budgeting indicates further room to improve gender mainstreaming in economic policy and budgetary areas, which would also support the use of these tools in the implementation of ESIF in Member States.
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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Mainstreaming gender into the EU budget and macroeconomic policy framework

The EU’s budget can be a powerful force for growth and development. Investment programmes such as the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) have helped transform less-developed regions and reduced inequality across the EU.
Yet when it comes to reducing inequalities between women and men, the EU’s budget falls short. This report shows that less than 1% of the 2014-2020 ESIF budget has been earmarked for gender equality measures.
This is despite a strong body evidence confirming that more gender-equal societies are a foundation for economic growth.  Indeed, narrowing the gender gap in the EU could result in an extra 10 million jobs and an increase of up to €3.15 trillion in GDP by 2050.
Gender budgeting is a strategy to achieve gender equality through allocating public resources in a way that addresses the specific needs of women and men. For example, gender budgeting recognises women’s unpaid care work and distributes resources accordingly. It is both efficient and effective budgeting.
Making gender equality a reality requires dedicated and consistent funding. Yet current proposals for the post-2020 EU budget show a low level of ambition when it comes to realising gender equality through economic action. Gender equality is treated as an overarching principle without clearly defined objectives that contribute to closing gender gaps and are based on gender-sensitive targets.

This is despite  the fact that a number of EU policies highlight the importance of mainstreaming gender into the Union’s budget, including the Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality, which requires that gender equality be taken into account when reviewing EU funds as well as Member State budgets. 
This report outlines concrete actions the EU institutions and Member States can take to help live up to the values and principles of the EU  through improved gender budgeting. It proposes recommendations for the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the annual budgetary cycle, the European Semester, and the ESIF. Recommendations include the setting of gender equality as a horizontal priority for the entire MFF; embedding gender equality as a distinct policy objective and institutionalising gender mainstreaming methods in all funds; the setting of budgetary targets for gender equality; and the introduction of a system to track funding for gender equality in all funding programmes.
Gender equality is a fundamental value of the European Union and its advancement coded into the EU’s legislative framework. The EU’s investment programmes are the most direct way for EU resources to reach those who need them and to impact individual lives and wellbeing. Ensuring that women and men benefit equally can help finally close the gender gap and boost the economy.  We would all stand to benefit from that.

Virginija Langbakk Director The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)
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The human rights situation in Iran severely deteriorated. The authorities suppressed the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as freedom of religion and belief, and imprisoned hundreds of people who voiced dissent. Trials were systematically unfair. Torture and other ill-treatment were widespread and committed with impunity. Floggings, amputations and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments were carried out. The authorities sanctioned pervasive discrimination and violence based on gender, political opinion, religious belief, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.
Executions took place, sometimes in public, and thousands remained on
death row. They included people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.

In March, the UN Human Rights Council renewed the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.
In August, the UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights criticized the reimposition of sanctions against Iran after the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, stating that international sanctions must be lawful, proportional and must not harm the human rights of ordinary citizens. He said: “These unjust and harmful sanctions are destroying the economy and currency of Iran, driving millions of people into poverty” and will “likely lead to silent deaths in hospitals as medicines run out”.
Clashes continued to take place along Iran’s borders, during which armed groups killed dozens of border guards.

Iran conducted military operations in support of government forces in the armed conflict in Syria, from where it also launched rockets against Israel.

The authorities intensified their crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, jailing hundreds of people on spurious national security charges. Among those targeted were peaceful political dissidents, journalists, online media workers, students, filmmakers, musicians and writers, as well as human rights defenders including lawyers, women’s rights activists, minority rights activists, trade unionists, environmental activists, anti-death penalty campaigners, and those seeking truth, justice and reparation for the mass executions and enforced disappearances of the 1980s.

Tens of thousands of men and women took to the streets throughout the year to protest against poverty, corruption, repression and authoritarianism.
Two major nationwide protests took place in January and July/August. Security forces violently dispersed the protests, beating unarmed protesters and using live ammunition, tear gas and water cannons against them, causing deaths and injuries.
In January, around 5,000 protesters were arrested. The judiciary spokesman said 25 protesters were killed but that “the weapons used and responsible [for the deaths] did not belong to the security forces”. In July/August, over 100 protesters were arrested. At least one protester was killed. No officials were held accountable.
In June, security forces in Khuzestan province unnecessarily used tear gas against protesters in Ahvaz and other cities who were demonstrating against water shortages and poor water quality. The interior minister denied reports that a male protester was killed.

 Authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained thousands of individuals. Most were denied access to an independent lawyer of their choosing. Hundreds of them faced unfair trials, lengthy prison sentences, torture and other ill-treatment.
Dozens of environmental activists were arrested throughout the year. Four were charged with “corruption on earth”, which carries the death penalty.
Hundreds of people were arrested at private mixed-gender parties. Some were subjected to flogging sentences.
In May, 17-year-old Maedeh Hojabri was briefly detained for posting on her Instagram account videos of herself dancing. Her forced “confession” was broadcast on state television.
Human rights defenders and lawyers continued to face arbitrary arrest, detention and prosecution in reprisal for their work. Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and her husband, Reza Khandan, were arrested and faced charges in connection with their support of women protesting against forced hijab (veiling). Other lawyers arrested and/or prosecuted included Amir Salar Davoudi, Arash Keykhosravi, Ghassem Sholeh-Sa’di, Farokh Forouzan, Mohammad Najafi, Mostafa Daneshjoo, Mostafa Tork Hamadani, Payam Derafshan and Zeynab Taheri.
Authorities arrested and detained, prosecuted or continued to imprison at least 112 women human rights defenders.
In June, the head of the judiciary implemented the Note to Article 48 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which denies individuals facing some charges, including those related to national security, the right to access a lawyer of their own choosing during the investigation stage and forces them to choose from a short list of lawyers approved by the head of the judiciary.

Censorship of all forms of media and jamming of foreign satellite television channels continued.
Some journalists and online media workers were arbitrary arrested and detained; several were prosecuted and received prison and/or flogging sentences. The Association of Journalists remained suspended.
Administrators of the popular mobile messaging application Telegram were given harsh prison sentences. In April, Telegram was banned, although millions of Iranians continued to use it through circumvention tools.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube remained blocked.

In August, the Supreme Leader rejected the president’s proposal to release opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi and the latter’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, from house arrest, where they have remained without charge or trial since 2011.

Torture and other ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement, remained systematic, especially during interrogations. Authorities failed to investigate allegations of torture or exclude “confessions” obtained under torture as evidence against suspects.
At least nine people died in custody under suspicious circumstances following their arrests in connection with the protests in late 2017 and early 2018. Officials claimed some had committed suicide, claims which were disputed by their families. After reporting torture marks on some victims’ bodies, lawyer Mohammad Najafi was arrested; he was later sentenced to a total of 14 years in prison and 74 lashes for charges including “disturbing public order”.
In February, Canadian Iranian academic and environmental activist Kavous Seyed Emami died in Evin prison following his arbitrary arrest two weeks earlier. Authorities claimed he committed suicide and refused to release his body unless his family agreed to an immediate burial without an independent autopsy.
Prisoners held for politically motivated reasons were denied adequate medical care, often as punishment; in some cases, this amounted to torture. Human rights defender Arash Sadeghi developed cancer in prison. Authorities tortured him by deliberately depriving him of specialist medical care.
Prisoners endured cruel and inhuman conditions of detention, including overcrowding, inadequate food, insufficient beds, poor ventilation and insect infestations.

 Judicial authorities continued to impose and carry out, including in public, cruel and inhuman punishments amounting to torture.
Scores of individuals faced flogging sentences for theft and assault as well as for acts that, under international human rights law, must not be criminalized. Such acts included attending peaceful protests and cultural gatherings, having extra-marital relationships and attending mixed-gender parties.
In April, three minority rights activists from the Azerbaijani Turkic ethnic minority were sentenced to four months’ imprisonment and 40 lashes for “disrupting public order” by participating in a peaceful cultural gathering.
In July, a man known as M.R. was tied to a tree in Razavi Khorasan province and flogged 80 times. He had been convicted a decade earlier of consuming alcohol when he was 14 or 15 years old.
The Supreme Court imposed and upheld amputation sentences. In January, authorities amputated the hand of a man, referred to as A.Kh., in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan province, reportedly for stealing livestock and other valuables.
The authorities continued to issue blinding sentences.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND BELIEF Freedom of religion and belief was systematically violated in law and practice. The authorities continued to impose, on people of all faiths and none, codes of public conduct rooted in a strict interpretation of Shi’a Islam. The right to change or renounce religious beliefs continued to be violated. While Amnesty International did not record any new cases in 2018, those who professed atheism remained at risk of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other ill-treatment and the death penalty for “apostasy”.
Gonabadi Dervishes faced a vicious crackdown, particularly since February, when a peaceful protest was violently quashed. Hundreds were arrested and over 200 were sentenced after unfair trials to between four months and 26 years in prison, flogging, internal “exile”, travel bans, and bans on membership of political and social groups. In February, 92-year-old Nour Ali Tabandeh, the spiritual leader of the Gonabadi Dervish religious minority, was put under house arrest.
Christians, including converts, continued to face harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and harsh prison sentences. Raids on house churches continued. Victor Bet-Tamraz and Shamiram Issavi, ethnic Assyrian Christians, and Amin Afshar-Naderi and Hadi Asgari, Christian converts, were sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison for peacefully practising their faith.
Widespread and systematic attacks continued against the Baha’i minority, including arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, forcible closure of businesses, confiscation of property, bans on employment in the public sector and denial of access to universities. Destruction and desecration of Baha’i cemeteries continued.
Other religious minorities not recognized under the Constitution, such as Yaresan (Ahl-e Haq), were also persecuted for practising their faith and faced systematic discrimination, including in education and employment.
Sunni Muslims continued to report discrimination, including exclusion from political office.

Women faced entrenched discrimination in family and criminal law, including in relation to divorce, employment, inheritance and political office. Iran’s Civil Code continued to deny Iranian women married to non-Iranian men the right to pass their nationality to their
children. Women had limited access to affordable, modern contraception.
A long-standing bill to protect women against violence remained stalled. The authorities continued to fail to criminalize gender-based violence, including domestic violence and marital rape. Acts of violence against women and girls, including domestic violence and early and forced marriage, were widespread.
According to official sources, between 21 March and 21 September, at least 366 girls aged below 15 and 29 girls aged below 10 were married. The parliament continued to debate a proposed amendment to Article 1041 of the Civil Code on the age of marriage. The amendment, which would ban marriage for girls under 13, was rejected by the parliament’s judicial and legal committee in December but remains under parliamentary review. If approved, the legal age of marriage for girls would be raised from 13 to 16, although girls aged between 13 and 16 could still be married subject to approval both from a court and from state medical doctors who would determine whether the child in question was “physically capable” of consummating the marriage.
A bill aimed at giving some married women permission to travel abroad without spousal approval remained under review.
Dozens of women peacefully protesting against the abusive, discriminatory and degrading practice of forced hijab by taking off their headscarves in public were violently assaulted and arrested. Millions of others were routinely harassed and assaulted in public places by the “morality police” for failing to comply with Iran’s strict Islamic dress code. Women were banned from singing and at times playing musical instruments in public. In January, popular singer Benyamin Bahadori refused to perform at a concert in Kerman after the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance banned female members of his group from appearing on stage.

The authorities’ ban on women entering football stadiums remained in place. Thirty-five women were briefly detained in March as they tried to enter a stadium to watch a local football match.

Ethnic minorities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baluchis, Kurds and Turkmen, continued to face entrenched discrimination, curtailing their access to education, employment and adequate housing. Continued economic neglect of regions with large minority populations exacerbated poverty and marginalization. The Persian language remained the sole medium of instruction in primary and secondary education.
Iran’s border guards unlawfully shot and killed with impunity tens of Kurdish kulbars, porters carrying goods on their backs between Iran and Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Members of minorities who spoke out against violations of their rights faced arbitrary arrest, torture and other illtreatment, unfair trials and imprisonment.
Hundreds of Azerbaijani Turks, including minority rights activists, were violently arrested in connection with peaceful cultural gatherings.
The authorities continued their persecution of the Ahwazi Arab minority. In April, up to 400 Ahwazi Arabs were reportedly arrested in connection with protests that took place after state television broadcast a children’s show that excluded Arabs from a map displaying the geographical locations of Iran’s ethnic minorities. In October, following a deadly armed attack on a military parade in Ahvaz the previous month, during which at least 24 people, including spectators, were killed, authorities waged a sweeping crackdown against Ahwazi Arabs in Khuzestan province. Over 700 people, including minority rights activists, were arrested and detained incommunicado. Ahwazi
Arab activists outside Iran reported that 22 were executed in secret.

Bans on independent trade unions persisted.
Thousands of workers staged peaceful demonstrations and strikes in protest at unpaid wages, poor working conditions and other grievances. Authorities arrested hundreds, sentencing many to prison terms and flogging.
In August, teacher Mohammad Habibi was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison, 74 lashes, a two-year travel ban and a two-year ban on “membership in political and social parties, groups or collectives” for charges stemming from his peaceful trade union activities.
In September, six more teachers were sentenced to flogging and prison terms for taking part in a peaceful protest calling for higher wages. More than a dozen others were arrested when nationwide strikes took place in October and November.
In October, hundreds of striking truck drivers were arrested and threatened with the death penalty.
In November, dozens of striking workers from the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company were arrested.
In December, dozens of steel workers in Ahvaz were violently arrested following weeks of strikes.

Courts continued to imposed death sentences and executions were carried out after unfair trials, some in public.
There was a drop in the number of drugrelated executions following amendments to the anti-narcotics law.
A number of individuals who were under 18 at the time of the crime of which they
were convicted were executed and many others remained on death row.
The Islamic Penal Code continued to provide for stoning as a method of execution.
The death penalty was maintained for some consensual same-sex sexual conduct, as well as for vaguely worded offences such as “insulting the Prophet”, “enmity against God” and “spreading corruption on earth”.
The authorities arrested individuals whom they described as “financially corrupt” and “saboteurs of the economy”. Many were convicted before newly established special courts dealing with crimes involving financial corruption and sentenced to death, lengthy prison terms, and flogging. Defendants were denied access to lawyers of their own choosing, had no right to appeal against prison sentences, and were given only 10 days within which to appeal death sentences.
In June, Mohammad Salas, from the Gonabadi Dervish minority, was executed after an unfair trial for the murder of three police officers during a protest in February. The sole evidence was a “confession” he said he made under torture.
In September, Kurdish prisoners Zaniar Moradi, Loghman Moradi and Ramin Hossein Panahi were executed in Raja’i Shahr prison, Karaj, after unfair trials. All three were denied access to their lawyers after arrest and said they were tortured into making “confessions”.
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Sunday, May 12, 2019


The scope of Egypt’s human rights crisis expanded, as the authorities arrested opponents, critics, satirists, current and former human rights and labour rights activists, journalists, presidential candidates and sexual harassment survivors. The authorities used prolonged pre-trial detention to imprison opponents, and restricted and harassed civil society organizations and staff. The authorities used solitary confinement that amounted to torture and other ill-treatment and enforced disappearance against hundreds of people with impunity, and failed to investigate cases of extrajudicial
executions. Civilian and military courts issued mass verdicts after unfair trials and sentenced hundreds of people to death. The authorities prosecuted two women who spoke out against sexual harassment, while discriminating against women in law and practice. People were arrested on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation. The authorities prevented Christians from freely practising their beliefs and failed to hold to account those responsible for sectarian violence. The armed forces used US-imported banned cluster bombs in an ongoing military operation in Sinai.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won a second presidential term, with 97% of the valid votes. The authorities implemented new cuts to energy and
electricity subsidies and raised the prices of publicly administered services, including water, fuel and transport, leading to sporadic small protests that police repressed. President al-Sisi renewed the state of emergency every three months.
On 9 February, the military launched operation “Sinai 2018” against militants in North Sinai. Linked to the operation, the authorities introduced restrictions on movement and closed fuel stations, suspended schools and banned some commercial activities, including fishing.
 A new law approved in July allowed the president to identify senior leaders of the armed forces whom he wished to shield from prosecution for any action committed between 3 July 2013 and 10 January 2016. The period covers 14 August 2013, when the security forces and army killed up to 1,000 people in a single day during the dispersal of Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda square sit-ins.

 In January, the authorities intensified the crackdown on dissent they started in December 2017 in the run-up to the presidential elections, arbitrarily arresting at least 113 people solely for peacefully expressing critical opinions.  The crackdown targeted a broad range of independent voices, including political and media critics, and satirists.
Among those arrested were many senior political figures who had publicly criticized the president or attempted to run against him in the presidential elections. Sami Anan, the military’s former chief of staff, was arrested in January after he announced his candidacy. Abdelmonim Aboulfotoh, founder of the Misr Al-Qawia political party, was arrested in February in relation to media interviews he had given. In April, a military court sentenced Hisham Genina, Egypt’s former top auditor, to five years in prison after he criticized the president in a media interview. In October, a court upheld a suspended three-month prison sentence for “public indecency” against former presidential candidate Khalid Ali, thereby disqualifying him from running for office again.
President al-Sisi ratified two laws that muzzled independent media. The laws gave the state almost total control over print, online and broadcast media. They also allowed prosecutors to use vague charges to prosecute media entities and individuals with over 5,000 followers on social media, and give police and investigative authorities the power to monitor and block websites containing material they deemed harmful to national security.
The police responded harshly to people protesting peacefully against austerity measures. In May, security forces arrested at least 35 people on charges of “participating in unauthorized protests” and “membership in a terrorist group” for protesting against the rise in ticket prices
for the Cairo metro. The authorities ordered their release on probation, which required their incarceration in a police station for 12 hours every day.

The authorities continued to harass and restrict the work of civil society organizations and their staff. Investigative judges conducting a criminal investigation into the work and funding of Egyptian civil society organizations in relation to Case 173 of 2011, banned human rights lawyer Khalid Ali from travel in October. This brought the total number of NGO workers banned from travelling to 30. The judges also summoned six directors and staff members of civil society organizations for interrogation and later ordered their release on bail.
In April, the Court of Cassation overturned the 2013 convictions of 43 staff of US and German NGOs in the first part of  Case 173 regarding foreign funding of NGOs, and ordered a retrial. In December, the Cairo Criminal Court acquitted all 43 defendants.
The authorities also began implementing the repressive 2017 NGO law against new organizations attempting to register or amend their by-laws, without having issued executive regulations. In November, the government announced that it would form a committee to amend the law.
Human rights defenders continued to face reprisals for their work. In March, the authorities arrested human rights lawyers Ezzat Ghoniem and Azzoz Mahgoub for their role in supporting the families of forcibly disappeared individuals and detained them on unfounded charges. After a court ordered their release in September, they were forcibly disappeared by security forces and their whereabouts remained unknown at the end of the year.
In October, the authorities arrested at least 31 human rights defenders and lawyers, including Hoda Abdelmoniem and Mohamed Abu Horira, former spokesperson for the Egyptian
Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, and held them incommunicado for 21 days, prompting the organization to suspend its activities. On 21 November, Hoda Abdelmoniem appeared at the office of the public prosecution for questioning but was subsequently returned to incommunicado detention at an undisclosed location.
In May, labour and human rights lawyer Haytham Mohamdeen was arrested and accused of participating in a protest against the metro price rises, even though he did not participate in the protest. He was released on 30 October on probation, under which he had to spend 12 hours every week detained in a police station.

The authorities used prolonged pretrial detention to imprison opponents and activists. Prosecutors and judges used vague and unfounded charges to arbitrarily detain critics, with regular renewals of detention and without referral to trial, based only on National Security Agency investigations. Among those detained were blogger Wael Abbas and satirist Shady Abu Zied, held in pretrial detention since May on charges of “membership in a banned group” and “disseminating false information”. Wael Abbas was released on probation on 11 December, requiring him to report to a nearby police station for four hours twice a week.
Courts continued to issue verdicts after unfair mass trials. In September, the Cairo Criminal Court issued its verdict in the grossly unfair mass trial of 739 people for participating in the sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square on 14 August 2013, during which the security forces and army shot dead more than 900 protesters. The court sentenced 75 people to death, 47 to 25 years in prison, and 612 to prison sentences ranging from five to 15 years, including 22 children.  Among them was photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zied “Shawkan”, who was sentenced to five years in prison after he had already spent over five years in pre-trial detention merely for taking photos of the Rabaa

sit-in dispersal. Of the group, 346 had spent five years in pre-trial detention and remained in prison at the end of 2018. The court also ordered the defendants to pay collectively the total amount of damages and imprisoned them for six more months for failure to pay.
ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES AND EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS The authorities continued to use enforced disappearances against critics and human rights lawyers and defenders, for periods of up to 30 days. According to the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, security forces subjected at least 82 people to enforced disappearance between January and August. Islam Khalil, a former victim of enforced disappearance and torture and other ill-treatment, was forcibly disappeared for 20 days between 10 March and 1 April and then charged with fabricated offences.
The Ministry of the Interior said that more than 164 people were shot dead in exchanges of fire with security forces during the year. Neither prosecutors nor other authorities investigated these incidents or allegations that many of the victims were unarmed and in police custody before being shot. In May, a video was published online showing military officers extrajudicially executing an unarmed child in Sinai; Amnesty International verified it as genuine.
TORTURE AND OTHER ILLTREATMENT The authorities continued to use torture and other ill-treatment in places of detention, and subjected prisoners to prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement for periods ranging between three weeks and over four years. In some cases, prison authorities detained prisoners in small cells that lacked proper lighting, ventilation or beds, forcing inmates to sleep on the ground, and prohibited prisoners from using toilets when they needed them. They also provided insufficient food. Such treatment amounted to torture in at least six cases. In one case, the authorities detained a 12-year-old child, Abdallah Boumidan, in solitary confinement for more than six months.
The authorities denied prisoners access to adequate medical care. They prevented human rights defender Hanan Badr el-Din,  co-founder of the Families of the Disappeared League, who has a genetic disorder that causes fever and painful inflammation of the abdomen, lungs and joints, from regularly accessing the health care she needed and only occasionally allowed her family to bring in the necessary medication.

Courts continued to hand down death sentences after unfair mass trials and military trials.

In September, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced 75 men to death after a grossly unfair trial. The same month, the Court of Cassation upheld death sentences against 20 men, including one aged 78. In both cases, the court did not prove the individual criminal responsibility of those convicted, and lawyers reported that the court did not allow many of their witnesses to appear or accept evidence they tried to submit.

In March, the Military High Court upheld death sentences against Ahmed Amin Ghazali and Abdul Basir Abdul Rauf, even though the conviction relied on “confessions” extracted under torture while they were held incommunicado. In December, the Supreme Military Court of Appeals formally accepted their appeal, overturning their death sentences and ordering a retrial.
Tens of people convicted by both civilian and military courts were executed.

Sexual harassment remained widespread and the authorities took limited steps to hold those responsible to account. The process for officially reporting sexual harassment remained extremely strenuous for women survivors. State institutions, including prosecutors and police stations, failed to respect the privacy of survivors, a shortcoming that
had led in the past to reprisals against survivors. In a rare case, in September, a court sentenced a man to two years in prison for sexually harassing two women.
The authorities arrested two women, Mouna al-Mazbouh and Amal Fathy, after they spoke out against sexual harassment in Egypt on their Facebook accounts. In September, Amal Fathy, a human rights defender, was sentenced to two years in prison. On 30 December, an Egyptian court rejected her appeal and upheld the two-year prison sentence against her. She also faced separate charges of “membership in a terrorist group” in a second case under which she was held in pre-trial detention until her provisional release on probation on 27 December. In July, a court sentenced Lebanese tourist Mouna al-Mazbouh to eight years in prison; this was reduced on appeal in September to a suspended one-year sentence and she was released later that month.

The government continued to restrict the right of Christians to worship in law and practice, and failed to bring those responsible for sectarian violence against Christians to justice. The authorities granted full registration to only 588 out of almost 3,730 churches and associated buildings that had applied for it under the new Law on the Construction and Reparation of Churches, which required approvals from several state bodies, including security services.
The authorities also closed at least four churches, in some instances after they were attacked by locals and in others based on allegations that they were unlicensed or in violation of their original designation, despite having applied for registration. This practice is in violation of the Law on the Construction and Reparation of Churches, which states that the authorities must not close down churches that have applied for registration.
In February, a court sentenced 19 Muslim men to a one-year suspended prison sentence and fined a Christian man for “building an unlicensed church“ after several men attacked the church in December 2017 in a village in Giza governorate. An appeals court later struck down the conviction of the Christian man.
In April, after several men burned down the houses of Christians in a village in Beni Souef governorate and attempted to attack a church there, security forces arrested 20 Christian men and accused them of assault and “incitement to violence”, but later released them.
In August, security forces arrested five Christian men in a village in Aswan and accused them of “holding religious rituals in an unlicensed building” – a church awaiting registration – after several men surrounded the church to protest against the prayers being held there. The authorities released the attackers and the five men after agreeing to an informal settlement.

 The authorities arrested and prosecuted LGBTI individuals on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
In February, the authorities arrested two men and accused them of “public indecency”. The prosecution ordered their release after charging them with organizing a party without a licence. Also in February, nine men were arrested and detained for “habitual debauchery” under under the Law on the Combating of Prostitution. In April, police arrested two men for “public indecency” and detained them, before bringing them before prosecutors. The case had not been referred to trial by the end of 2018.
REFUGEES’ AND MIGRANTS’ RIGHTS Security forces deported at least one asylum-seeker to a country where his life or safety were at risk, in violation of the
principle of non-refoulement. Military judges prosecuted Egyptians and foreign nationals leaving or entering Egypt by land outside official crossings; these areas are considered military zones. Those convicted tended to be sentenced to terms of imprisonment, which were suspended in the case of Egyptians.

In October, security agencies arrested a Sudanese critic and held him incommunicado for three days. They then deported him to Sudan, where he was at risk of torture and other ill-treatment and faced several charges that could carry the death penalty. In January, the head of the Southern Military Region ratified a oneyear suspended prison sentence issued by a military court against 13 Syrians. The authorities released 11 of the men but deported the other two to Sudan.

 The authorities forcibly dispersed strikes and held trade unionists in prolonged pre-trial detention. They also removed the names of hundreds of outspoken, independent candidates from ballot papers for elections for leadership roles in independent and state labour unions in June, which led to unrepresentative unions controlled by pro-government figures.
In April, security forces arrested five men and one woman for participating in a peaceful strike in Cairo over the refusal of their employers to pay annual bonuses. The prosecutor ordered their release. In October, the authorities arrested two members of the nursing trade union, a man and a woman, for “disseminating false news” and “membership in a banned group”. They were both released by the end of the year, but one of them was referred to trial in November. 

The authorities enforced a strict media blackout on the military campaign in
Sinai. The military stated on several occasions that it had used air strikes to kill individuals identified as militants, instead of attempting to apprehend them and bring them to justice.
In February, the military shared two videos on its social media accounts in relation to a military operation in North Sinai. The first showed US-made CBU-87 Combined Effects Weapons, a type of cluster bomb, being loaded onto fighter jets set to be deployed to North Sinai. The second, released 12 days later, showed an unexploded US-made Mk 118 cluster munition, which could only have been dropped by the Egyptian air force. Cluster munitions are banned under international law.
In October, the military killed four men at a checkpoint as they were leaving their workplace. The military did not announce an investigation into the incident.
The authorities continued to harass and threaten journalists covering the military operation in North Sinai. In May, a military court sentenced journalist and researcher Ismail el-Iskandrani to 10 years’ imprisonment for his work on the operation. In September, police raided and burned down the family home of a journalist in Arish known for covering the events in Sinai for an opposition news channel based in Turkey. Police had previously raided his house and asked his family about his whereabouts.
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Friday, May 10, 2019


Suppression of freedom of expression on political issues remained widespread, with many high-profile dissidents imprisoned on speech-related charges. Public protests remained officially banned in the capital. The government further curbed the right to freedom of association by making legislative amendments that had a de facto discriminatory impact on Shi’a groups. The authorities continued to impose denaturalization as a criminal penalty against those convicted in national security cases, stripping roughly 300 individuals of their nationality. Bahrain’s
first military trial of civilians since 2011 was accompanied by reports of torture or other ill-treatment of the defendants that were never adequately investigated. Bahraini prisons continued to be characterized by arbitrary punitive action, degrading treatment of prisoners, and withholding and/or unjustifiable delay of medical care. Women faced discrimination in law and in practice. Migrant workers faced exploitation. Bahrain continued to issue death sentences in 2018, though no executions were reported. The country remained closed to independent outside observers.

Bahrain held elections for the lower, non-appointed house of its National Assembly, the Council of Deputies, in
November. With all opposition political societies previously dissolved and their membership banned from fielding candidates, no opposition political figures were able to run.
Bahrain remained a part of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition engaged in the armed conflict in Yemen and the Gulf regional crisis in which Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed relations with Qatar in 2017.

Suppression of freedom of expression on political issues remained widespread, with many high-profile dissidents imprisoned on speech-related charges. Most human rights defenders in Bahrain had been jailed, silenced or forced to move abroad since 2016
Human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Nabeel Rajab continued serving multiple prison sentences based on his exercise of freedom of expression, while new speech-based charges and convictions continued to be added against him. In January Bahrain’s highest judicial authority, the Court of Cassation, upheld his conviction for criticizing the authorities in a television interview for refusing to allow journalists and human rights groups into the country. In February a criminal court sentenced him to five years in prison for commenting on Twitter on the war in Yemen and ill-treatment in a Bahraini prison. This conviction was upheld on appeal in June and by the Court of Cassation on 31 December.
Ali Salman, the leader of Bahrain’s largest opposition political society, alWefaq, remained imprisoned on speechrelated charges throughout 2018, and faced spurious new charges of “spying” related to telephone conversations he had with senior Qatari officials during the country’s 2011 uprising. Though he was acquitted of the spying charges in June, an appeals court overturned that verdict in November, sentencing him to life.

 Public protests remained officially banned in the capital, Manama, while the government took several steps to further legally curb the right to freedom of association. In June Bahrain amended its Law on Associations to bar members of political opposition groups from participation on the boards of civil society organizations. In the same month the government also revised the Law on the Exercise of Political Rights in order to ban “active leaders and members of dissolved political associations” from running for office, thus preventing the major religious and secular political opposition groups in Bahrain from standing for election to public office. Both laws had a de facto discriminatory effect by further excluding the civic leadership of Shi’a groups – which are more heavily represented in the political opposition than Sunnis – from participation in governance and civic life.

Bahrain continued to create a stateless population within its borders by imposing denaturalization as a criminal penalty against those convicted in national security cases. Amnesty International tallied around 300 individuals stripped of their nationality in 2018, bringing the total figure since 2012 up to over 800. The Bahraini government expelled four of these ex-citizens in January, and a significant number emigrated, mainly to Iran, Iraq and Europe; those who remained within Bahrain lived as conditional residents, facing socioeconomic marginalization. Nonnationals were not automatically eligible for government benefits provided to most of the native population such as housing subsidies and were unlikely to be hired within the public sector, which makes up a disproportionately large share of the labour market.

There continued to be credible reports in 2018 of coercion, including torture or other ill-treatment, being commonly used, especially in national security cases, in order to extract “confessions”, which were then allowed to be used in court to convict defendants. In January a military court convicted civilians, including individuals who had been subject to enforced disappearance. It was the first military trial of civilians since 2011 and the first under Bahrain’s new system of military jurisdiction over national security cases.
Trials of excessive numbers of defendants in the same cases continued in civilian courts, including a mass trial in June in which 115 defendants were stripped of their Bahraini nationality.

 Bahrain’s first military trial of civilians since 2011 was accompanied by reports of torture or other ill-treatment of the defendants that were never adequately investigated. The National Institution for Human Rights, in a retrospective review based largely on the accounts of Bahraini
authorities, discounted the claims of torture, although the evidence it reviewed was consistent with the possibility of torture or other ill-treatment.
Bahraini prisons continued to be characterized by arbitrary punitive action, degrading treatment of prisoners, and withholding and/or unjustifiable delay of medical care. Prisoners with extremely grave conditions such as cancer and multiple sclerosis faced unaccountable delays in receiving their medication, and requests for surgery needed to alleviate chronic pain – in some cases allegedly due to injuries sustained at the hands of security forces or prison guards – were rarely granted. In an egregious case, Ahmed Merza Ismaeel, the brother-inlaw of Shi’a political leader Sheikh Ali Salman, continued to be deprived of medication to manage his sickle-cell anaemia – an extremely painful blood disease – and had been in need of a cholecystectomy (surgery to remove the gall bladder) since summer 2016. The Ministry of Interior Ombudsman’s office proved unresponsive or ineffective in addressing complaints of medical neglect in most of the cases Amnesty International documented.
The authorities subjected Nabeel Rajab and a group of 11 other prisoners of conscience held in Jaw prison to various forms of harassment and degradation. In the most serious form of mistreatment, the prison administration continued to refuse members of the group access to proper medical care unless they submitted to shackling. Though distribution of medication would not require prisoners to leave their cells, the prison administration refused to give prisoner of conscience Hassan Mshaima all of his medications unless he submitted to shackled trips to the prison infirmary. As a result, he had to be hospitalized for diabetic hyperglycaemia in January.
In September, guards under the commanding officer at Isa Town Women’s Rehabilitation and Reform Centre physically assaulted prisoner of conscience Hajer Mansoor Hasan, Najah Ahmed Yusuf and Medina Ali Ahmed when they tried to join in Shi’a religious rites on the Muslim holy day of Ashoura with other prisoners. Immediately after, new restrictions were imposed on all prisoners at Isa Town, including 23hour lockup. The timing and the lack of any apparent administrative or security imperative indicated that the measures were purely punitive in nature. The National Institution for Human Rights justified the incident as “reasonable use of force… to guarantee the safety of the inmate[s]” and found no fault with respect to the prison’s lockup policy or other restrictive measures.

 Women faced discrimination in law and in practice. Transmission of nationality continued to be restricted to Bahraini fathers, so that Bahraini women who had children by men of other nationalities could not pass on their Bahraini citizenship.

 Migrant workers continued to face labour exploitation. Hundreds of workers took part in protests in June requesting their unpaid wages. The government did not respond to Amnesty International’s requests for information regarding the situation of workers at the engineering company Mercury MENA, which operated in several Arab Gulf states and had left many of its workers unpaid for over a year.

Bahrain continued to issue death sentences in 2018, though no executions were reported. In positive developments on individual cases, the judiciary announced that it would review the death sentences previously issued against Mohamed Ramadan Husain and Husain Ali Mohamed in light of new evidence found by the Office of Public Prosecution’s Special Investigation Unit, and the king commuted several death sentences handed down against civilians under military jurisdiction to life imprisonment.

Bahrain remained closed to independent outside observers in 2018. Amnesty International continued not to be granted access by the government. Multiple UN human rights bodies were also unable to visit the country. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reiterated its standing request made in January 2017 for a country visit. The Working Group on Enforced Disappearances issued its third reminder about a visit request that had been pending since 2015. The UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and on freedom of assembly and association had had requests to visit pending since 2011; the Special Rapporteur on torture had sent multiple follow-up requests to no avail.
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