After 30 years of oppressive rule, President Mubarak stepped down as leader of Egypt on 11 February 2011.
Inspired by the fall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia in January, opposition activists organised a day of protests across Egypt on 25 January.
For 18 days, millions of Egyptians took to the streets, occupied squares, and ultimately overthrew a ruler who for decades had seemed unassailable.
But the bravery of the protestors cost them dear - at least 840 people were killed and nearly 7,000 others were injured while thousands more were detained and many of them tortured.
After nearly three weeks of sustained and courageous protest, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) took control, with the promise that they would hand power to an elected civilian government.
Since then the SCAF has been responsible for a catalogue of abuses including the violent suppression of protests, resulting in at least 84 deaths in 2011. Torture in detention has continued, and more civilians have been tried before military courts in one year than during 30 years of Mubarak's rule. Women have been subjected to humiliating treatment in an apparent attempt to deter them from protesting.
In December 2011 the offices of a number of NGOs were raided by security forces in a move that seems to be aimed at silencing critics of the authorities. 2012 saw more of the same as military forces continued to restrict the right of Egyptians to protest and freely express their views. Towards the end of the year, newly elected president Mohamed Morsi announced a series of constitutional reforms that put human rights at risk and sparked a new wave of peaceful protests across the country.
To date, no senior official or security officer has been properly punished for the killing of protesters during the '25 January Revolution'. The battle for justice continues.
Two years on, still no justice
Over two years on from the '25 January Revolution' and no senior official has been brought to justice for killing or injuring peaceful protestors.
Some 840 men, women and children died during the peaceful protests that brought an end to Hosni Mubarak's oppressive rule, and nearly 7,000 were injured during the brutal crackdown from security forces.
President Morsi has repeatedly paid tribute to those who died but he is yet to back his words up with effective action to ensure those responsible for the deaths are brought to justice. The courts continue to acquit senior and other security officials due to lack of evidence or claims to self-defence, despite well-documented evidence indicating the use of unnecessarily excessive force.
Families are being denied justice due to what they and lawyers claim is a flawed evidence-gathering process.
Egypt's historic elections
On 24 June 2012 Mohamed Morsi became Egypt's first democratically elected president in over three decades.
As he prepared for his swearing in ceremony, we set out the biggest human rights challenges facing the country and urged him to break the cycle of abuse perpetuated by Hosni Mubarak's repressive rule, and continued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) during its transitional leadership of the country.
Since then Morsi has made some worrying moves, including announcing changes to the constitution that do little to protect human rights and a law that provides the military with policing powers.
- Find out more about the human rights challenges facing Egypt
- Read what we sent to Mohamed Morsi ahead of his swearing-in ceremony (PDF)
Human rights abuses by the military
Egypt's ruling military council has continued the tradition of repressive rule which the January 25 demonstrators fought so hard to get rid of.
Its decision to grant itself unrestrained powers ahead of the results of the presidential elections sets the country on the path to further human rights violations.
Unless these powers are curtailed the military will be able to continue to trample on human rights with impunity. Read more about army abuses
After the fall
As President Mubarak stepped down, both houses of parliament were dissolved, the constitution was suspended and it was declared that the military would rule Egypt for six months when elections could be held.
In March 2011, a large majority of Egyptians voted 'yes' in a hastily called referendum on proposed constitutional amendments. The key changes were:
- Reducing presidential terms from six years to four years
- Limiting each president to two terms maximum
- Obliging the president to choose a deputy within 30 days of election
- Installing new criteria for presidential candidate, including a rule that they must be over 40 years old, and cannot be married to a non-Egyptian.
We have welcomed proposals for change in Egypt but, with the committee formed to amend the constitution comprised only of men, we're concerned that people's organisations, including women's groups, are being excluded from the reform process.
The Supreme Council of Armed Forces
During the leadership of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) mass protests were held against their rule as people grew frustrated at the slow process of reform.
Despite promising to end the state of emergency, the SCAF retained and extended the Emergency Law. The abusive State Security Investigation service was disbanded, but its methods - which saw people arbitrarily arrested and detained, tortured, and held without trial or tried unfairly before military courts - still live on.
Freedom of expression, association and assembly were also promised, but the harsh reality was that criticism of the SCAF was not tolerated, activists were targeted and NGOs were threatened with intrusive criminal investigations. Peaceful demonstrators continued to be forcibly and violently dispersed. Little has improved since Mohamed Morsi came to power.
Military courts have jailed thousands of ordinary Egyptians since the 2011 ''25 January Revolution' ' after unfair trials. These courts lack independence and impartiality, and defendants are denied an effective opportunity to appeal against their conviction and sentence to a higher tribunal. In line with international law.
While there are reports that many individuals serving sentences imposed after military trials were released after being retried, thousands remain in prison, among them several children being held in high security adult prisons.
All Egyptians must be able to participate meaningfully in shaping their future. For real human rights reforms to take place, the Egyptian authorities must:
- End any state of emergency and stop arbitrary detentions, torture and unfair trials
- Uphold freedom of expression, assembly, association and information
- End torture and other ill-treatment
- Ensure the right to an adequate standard of living, including housing and upholding the right to work as well as other economic, social and cultural rights
- Protect women's rights
- Eliminate discrimination
- End violations against migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers
- Abolish the death penalty
- Cooperate with UN mechanisms
Women were at the forefront of the protests and demands for change during the heady days of the revolution, but since then there has been little improvement in their status and situation.
They continue to be discriminated against in both law and practice, and nothing has been done to ensure their ability to participate in decision-making during the reform process.
Futher information and reports
- A Year of Rebellion, A Year of hope
- Ten Steps for Human Rights in Egypt (pdf)
- Women Demand Equality (pdf)
- Broken promises: Egypt's military rulers erode human rights (pdf)
- Watch Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui talk about how justice is failing victims in Suez
- Egypt rises: killings, detentions and torture in the '25 January Revolution' (pdf)
- Time for Justice: Egypt's Corrosive System of Detention (pdf)