Forced Eviction Laws In Egypt Are Unfair

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Egypt

Publishing organisation: Arab Reporters For Investigative Journalism (Arij)

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 2022-11-22

Language: English

Authors: no team member that is a single project


I am Samar Mohammad, a freelance journalist from Egypt who produced this project with the financial support of Arij foundation for Investigative Journalism. I have been working in the field of journalism since 2013. I received the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate award 2022 and was nominated for the Dubai Arab Journalism Award 2021 and the True Story Award 2020.

I work in the field of investigations (politics/ education/ health/ environment/ gender/ law/ women) and have been interested in data journalism since 2020 and scientific journalism (environment and climate) since 2021.

Project description:

The investigation reveals an increase in cases of forced evictions of citizens from their homes and lands due to road expansion and bridge-building projects implemented by the Egyptian government in recent years, which led to an increase in the number of forced evictions of real estate and landowners by the government in exchange for insufficient compensation; this step violates the law on confiscation of property for public benefit and articles of the Constitution.

Impact reached:

In response to the investigation, engineer Ehab Mansour, undersecretary of the housing committee of the Egyptian House of Representatives, submitted a briefing request to adjust the mechanisms for compensating citizens in case of expropriation for public benefit, in accordance with Law No. 10 of 1990, as amended by Law No. 187 of 2020, on expropriation of real estate for public benefit.

Following the publication of the investigation, the Egyptian government issued a decision to assess the compensation for expropriated citizens according to the prices prevailing at the time of the issuance of the public benefit decision plus (20%) of the assessment value, and the entity requesting expropriation deposits the full amount of compensation within a period not exceeding three months.

This has positively affected the life of society and citizens, as those who are expropriated from the property or land they own are compensated fairly, and compensation is not delayed after requesting a briefing and amending the law, which was a reaction to the publication of the investigation and their discussion in the House of Representatives.

Techniques/technologies used:

Initially, the official gazette of the Egyptian state and the sorting of 200 issues of them were used in order to revise the decisions of the Egyptian President, the Council of ministers, ministers and local bodies on expropriation of citizens (real estate/ land) in order to build bridges, axes and road bridges, to build a database on the number of decisions and which entity issued more expropriation decisions during the period from 2014 to 2021.

It also relied on the archives of the Egyptian court of Cassation to revise the cases of expropriation filed by citizens against the dispossession decision-makers to create a database related to the judgments issued, compensation, their size and the amount of damage inflicted on them.

i then relied on data analysis tools in order to extract the information contained in the investigation from the aforementioned databases, as well as using Flourish and Datawrapper tools to list and present data and information via infographic to be clearer and easier for the reader.

Through these tools and means used, I came up with the numbers of expropriation decisions, the most issuing bodies for those decisions, the number of those affected, which regions are more, the amount of compensation received by citizens, and the number of cases filed against official bodies in protest against the expropriation decisions.

Context about the project:

What context about the project does the jury want to know – the political landscape, resource constraints , legal threats , access to data , innovative technologies and so on
There is a security clampdown in Egypt, especially in the field of journalistic work and investigations that reveal the secrets and issues of corruption such as my investigation, the political scene in Egypt suffers from severe restriction and blocking of information, and there are huge numbers of journalists who have been thrown into prisons for exposing major issues and corruption is happening.

The danger inherent in the investigation is that I have worked on decisions issued by the president of the Republic and there are red lines approaching blackness in Egypt from compromising the decisions of the president, and from him to the decisions of the prime minister, it revealed huge suffering and flagrant violation of the law that occurs based on decisions issued by the head of state and his cabinet, which is a breach of those red lines, representing a security risk to my person.

Access to the data was also not easy, as the Official Gazette does not allow full access to its decisions, but I used some innovative tools and techniques in order to access it, as well as the archive of the Egyptian court of Cassation.

I also faced security threats due to the refusal of some areas and neighborhood heads to photograph the demolitions of houses owned by citizens, which threatens private property and violates the law.I filmed some police cars carrying out demolitions, which put me at risk at that time.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

They learn data journalism and they don’t just mean numbers and can build a story or a whole investigation that exposes corruption through that data
There are reliable sources of such data that are close to the journalist, but he is not aware of them, such as the decisions of officials in official newspapers, the archives of major courts in countries, and official statements of government bodies.
A good and thoughtful analysis of databases yields important information that can only be disclosed through data.I produced the investigation after a 6-month training with Arij on data journalism and learned the methods of Investigation, searching databases and moving on them to come up with confirmed information that benefits the investigation and supports the story.
The use of important sites that allow the submission of information and data that have been revised and analyzed in the form of infographics such as Flourish and Datawrapper.
He can blend data and human stories in data journalism. Because it is data that provides information about the story, while human stories show the extent of damage to citizens, as I did in an investigation.

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