HRW: Egypt violated international law in Sinai demolitions
HRW: Egypt violated international law in Sinai demolitions

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Tuesday that Egypt violated international law during the creation of a “buffer zone” between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. According to HRW, the creation of the buffer zone required demolition of more than 3,200 buildings [HRW report] in the Sinai Peninsula between July 2013 and August 2015, resulting in the displacement and eviction of “thousands of families.” The Egyptian government maintains that the buffer zone is necessary to prevent the importation of weapons from the Gaza Strip to separatist rebels in Sinai who are affiliated with the Islamic State [JURIST backgrounder]. HRW asserts that the manner in which the buffer zone was created violated international law in multiple respects, including treatment of civilians and proportionality under the laws of war, the right to housing contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [text], and the right to property contained in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights [text]. HRW called on the Egyptian government to halt the demolitions in Sinai, provide for adequate compensation of land owners, create a fair resettlement plan for the displaced, and studying whether less destructive means could be employed to neutralize the smuggling tunnels.

These actions are just another on the long list of questionable actions [JURIST op-ed] Egypt has taken violating citizen’s rights. In August Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi [BBC profile] approved [JURIST report] the new 54-article counter-terrorism law, which has been met with significant controversy as many believe it to be an infringement on freedom of the press. Many have said that the law defines [AP report] “terrorism” broadly and gives free reign to law enforcement agents as to force allowed in defending against terrorism, as well as imposing harsh sentences and fines. HRW criticized [JURIST report] the new law saying it infringes on freedom of the press. HRW’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director said, “[t]he government has equipped itself with even greater powers to continue stamping out its critics and opponents under its vague and ever-expanding war on terrorism.”