Middle East

Rights group slams Egypt's record in 2016

Human Rights Watch says in a new report that Egypt has banned public criticism and peaceful opposition, and that security forces routinely torture detainees and forcibly disappeared hundreds last year.

In the report issued Thursday, the New York-based advocacy group says President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's government has also taken "unprecedented" steps to criminalize human rights work and cripple independent civil society groups.

El-Sissi led the military's 2013 ouster of the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president. He has since overseen a crackdown that jailed thousands, mostly Morsi supporters but also some prominent secular activists.

El-Sissi says Egypt should not be judged by Western standards and that the right to education, housing and health care is just as important as freedom of expression.