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Egyptian rights group closes, citing government persecution

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information says laws implemented in recent years have made many of its operations illegal
ANHRI’s executive director, Gamal Eid, represented some of the most prominent secular detainees in Egyptian prisons.
Gamal Eid, executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, represented some of the most prominent secular detainees in Egyptian prisons (AFP/File photo)

One of the last independent human rights organisations in Egypt has closed down, citing government persecution, the group said in a statement on Monday.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), an Egyptian rights group, announced that laws in the country had made many of ANHRI's operations illegal and therefore forced it to shut down operations.

"ANHRI's decision to suspend its activities comes after many strenuous attempts to continue to operate despite the difficult conditions which Egyptians are going through and the state of political instability that the government has employed to put restrictions on independent human rights organisations," the group said.

ANHRI said its workers had been arrested, intimidated and physically assaulted by security forces.

The organisation was founded in 2004 by a team of lawyers and activists. It documented violations against citizens, journalists and political prisoners in Egypt and the region. It also followed the increasing government intimidation and targeting of human rights workers and others.

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"We continue to be lawyers who have a conscience, and as individual, independent human rights defenders will work side by side with the few remaining independent human rights organisations, independent human rights defenders and the entire movement calling for democracy," ANHRI's executive director, Gamal Eid, said in a statement.

Since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in a 2013 military coup, Egypt's government has, for years, engaged in a widespread crackdown on dissent that has jailed thousands and stifled many of the country's civil society groups, according to rights groups.

The country is ranked among the world’s worst jailers of journalists, along with Turkey and China, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

As a lawyer, Eid represented some of the most prominent secular detainees in Egyptian prisons. In 2016, a court ordered his assets frozen and banned him from travelling. 

Also on Monday, a number of Egyptian and international rights groups released a statement calling on the Egyptian government to repeal a requirement that would force NGOs and civil society organisations (CSOs) to register under a 2019 law that would allow the government to interfere in their work, activities and funding.

"The requirement for CSOs to register under this draconian law comes amid the Egyptian authorities’ broader crackdown on the human rights movement," the groups' statement said.