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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

MIDEAST: Human Rights Deteriorated in 2009, Report Warns

MIDEAST Human Rights

Human rights abuses in Arab countries increased throughout the Middle East and North Africa during 2009, according to the annual report of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, released earlier this week.

Titled “Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform”, the report reviews “deteriorating” human rights developments this year in 12 Arab countries – Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen.

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In a separate chapter, the report addresses what it calls the “limited progress” made to advance women’s rights and gender equality.  It says that Arab governments “use the issue of women’s rights to burnish their image before the international community while simultaneously evading democratic and human rights reform measures required to ensure dignity and equality for all of their citizens”.

In Egypt, where the institute is based and the state of emergency is approaching the end of its third decade, the report charges that “the broad immunity given to the security apparatus has resulted in the killing of dozens of undocumented migrants, the use of lethal force in the pursuit of criminal suspects, and routine torture.”

Counterterrorism policies were used to justify long-term arbitrary detention, and political activists advocating reform were tortured. These policies also undermined judicial standards, as witnessed by the prosecution of hundreds of people in semi-secret trials over the last year, the report says.

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