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Egypt's chief justice warns rights advocates to 'stay quiet'

The Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo on 25 February 2015 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
The Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo on 25 February 2015 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]

The President of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court has sent a message to human rights advocates to stay silent.

"Stay quiet, it is better for you. Egypt is a leading nation in respecting human rights," Counsellor Said Marei told a TV station in Egypt.

The comments are reminiscent of a warning issued by Egypt's immigration minister in 2019 who said during a private party: "Anyone who says anything about our country, what happens to them? We cut," making a slicing motion across her throat.

Marei said that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi respected women and had worked hard to advocate for women's rights including appointing them to the state council and the public prosecution.

Whoever visits Egypt and the ancient temples will find the symbol of justice on the wall, he added.

In the interview with Al-Nahar, Marei added that the Egyptian judiciary is independent, painting a very different picture of Egypt to what has been widely documented by rights advocates.

There are roughly 65,000 political prisoners in the country who are systematically tortured, denied healthcare and served with death sentences at an alarming rate.

READ: Egypt will accept returned refugees in exchange for military, security incentives from Italy, sources say

Officials in the country have consistently denied there is a human rights crisis, even denying that there are political prisoners.

In August a cleric claimed Egypt's prisons are like resorts where prisoners are treated like guests after a report held the Tora Prison authorities responsible for the death of political prisoner Tjuddin Abdel-Qader Allam.

Critics have said that Egypt's attempts to employ more women into the administration are surface changes only, since hundreds of women have reported being sexually and verbally abused by authorities, particularly during their arrest or incarceration.

At the same time the government has introduced archaic legislation which could see a woman's marriage annulled by a male member of her family if he doesn't approve.

In June, detained Egyptian activist Alaa Abdelfattah called on Egypt's judiciary to stand down, accusing the authorities of subordination to the authorities and failing to issue independent rulings.

According to Egyptian law, someone can only be held in pretrial detention for a maximum of two years, however courts regularly bring new charges against political prisoners when they reach the end of this time to prolong their detention.

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