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64 rights groups call on Egypt to end crackdown on peaceful dissent

June 2, 2021 at 1:02 pm

Prisoners are seen during a court case in Cairo on 28 July 2018 [Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images]

Sixty-four organisations have called on the Egyptian authorities to end its crackdown on independent organisations and peaceful dissent.

The statement reiterated a call for the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism on Egypt at the Human Rights Council.

It follows a joint statement issued by 30 countries in March at the United Nations Human Rights Council criticising the human rights situation in Egypt.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that it was an unjustifiable “politicisation” of human rights and a pretext to cover their own continued rights violations.

“We remain greatly concerned over the arbitrary arrest, detention and other judicial harassment of human rights defenders,” said the statement. “Those held unjustly include NGO directors Mohamed Al-Baqer and Ezzat Ghoniem; human rights researchers Patrick George Zaki and Ibrahim Ezz el-Din; and lawyers Mahienour al-Massry, Haytham Mohamdeen and Hoda Abdelmoniem.”

“The founder and director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) Bahey Eldin Hassan was handed down an outrageous 15-years imprisonment sentence in absentia,” the statement continued.

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The organisations also criticised travel bans, asset freezes, the so-called terror law, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and torture, mass trials, pre-trial detention and the deliberate denial of healthcare which are regularly used as punitive measures against human rights defenders for engaging in UN mechanisms.

It also expressed deep concern over the crackdown on independent journalists and the media amid the blocking of hundreds of websites and the detention of journalists including Israa Abdelfattah and Ismail Iskandarani.

“We share the High Commissioner’s concerns regarding worrying patterns in the Sinai peninsula of forcible displacement, enforced disappearances, and torture and other ill-treatment of detainees,” said the statement.

“We note her call to the Egyptian authorities to recognise that, as in all countries facing security challenges and violent extremism, depriving people of their rights will not make the State safer, but more unstable.”

The signatories, which include Amnesty International, Baytna and Committee for Justice, pointed out that authorities have failed to address pervasive sexual and gender-based violence and targeted women’s human rights defenders.