GENEVA, March 7 (Reuters) - The U.N. human rights chief on Wednesday decried a “pervasive climate of intimidation” in Egypt ahead of presidential elections this month that he said has been marked by arrests, torture of detainees and “silencing” of independent media.
Egypt has stepped up a crackdown on media outlets it deems to be publishing reports which might harm national security, as the country approaches an election where President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is virtually guaranteed a second term, and the military fights to crush Islamic State militants in the Sinai Peninsula.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, in an annual report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council, said: “Potential candidates have allegedly been pressured to withdraw, some through arrests. Legislation prevents candidates and supporters from organising rallies. Independent media have been silenced, with over 400 media and NGO websites completely blocked.” (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Tom Miles)