Christoph Strässer, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement on 17 August in response to President Al-Sisi signing Egypt’s new counter-terrorism act:
It is with great concern for press freedom and freedom of opinion in Egypt that I have taken note of the new counter-terrorism act. Nobody doubts the fact that Egypt is facing a very real terrorist threat. The brutal murder of a Croatian hostage last week make that more than clear. We have every interest in seeing the fight against terrorism succeed across the globe, including in Egypt.
Restricting freedom of the press and opinion is the wrong way to go about depriving terrorism of breeding ground. Lasting stability is impossible without fundamental rights and respect for human rights. Particularly in such difficult times, it is essential to protect and defend them.
Egyptian law was already restrictive before, making it possible to detain people for two years without formally charging them or opening legal proceedings. The young Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abdel Shakour Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, is one example. He has been held since 14 August 2013 – meaning his incarceration no longer even has a legal basis.