Egypt: Human rights groups condemn crackdown on human rights activities

20.03.2015

Egypt must end and ensure accountability for restrictions and attacks, including sexual violence, against women human rights defenders, ISHR and other leading NGOs told the UN Human Rights Council today. 

(Geneva) - Egypt must end and ensure accountability for restrictions and attacks, including sexual violence, against women human rights defenders, ISHR told the UN Human Rights Council today. 

In delivering the statement, ISHR joined its civil society partners in voicing its solidarity with Egyptian human rights defenders, journalists and NGOs by addressing grave concerns over extreme restrictions and repression of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly in the country.

The UN Human Rights Council adopted a report on the Universal Periodic Review of Egypt today, to which the Egyptian government replied that it is open to dealing with recommendations on laws relating to civil society, peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and anti-discrimination law, reaffirming that civil society is to be considered a main partner of the government. However, human rights groups raised a number of concerns indicating the contrary.

In a joint statement made on behalf of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, Ms Pooja Patel of ISHR expressed ‘grave concern that the violence, intimidation and harassment faced by women human rights defenders, which were raised during Egypt’s UPR in November 2014, has only intensified’. Drawing attention to the written statement submitted by Nazra for Feminist Studies, ISHR reiterated that many human rights defenders face judicial harassment and undue charges under the Protest and Peaceful Assembly Law (No. 107).

Human rights groups condemned the arrest of human rights defenders who have been imprisoned under the draconian anti-protest law, including Yara Sallam, Alaa Abdel Fattah, Sana Seif, Ahmed Maher and Hend Nafea. ‘Many of those who have challenge the protest law – which essentially outlaws peaceful demonstrations – have been imprisoned, and others have been killed,’ said Mr Philippe Dam from Human Rights Watch.  

Condemning the killing of Shaimaa ElSabbagh, who was shot by police on 24 January 2015 for peacefully marking the anniversary of the revolution, Mr John Foley of the East and Horn of African Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) stated that recent trends constitute ‘one of the most extreme assaults on human rights defenders, civic space, freedom of assembly, expression and association ever seen on the African continent’.

Mr Nicolas Agostini from International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) reminded the Council that many Egyptian human rights defenders did not participate in the UPR of Egypt for fear of reprisals upon their return to the country: ‘This fact speaks volumes about the situation in the country,’ he stated.

‘The intentions of the government are clear: to do away with the independent human rights community in Egypt through every tool at its disposal,’ said Ms Janeen Rashmawi from the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS). She added that ‘rights and representation hold the key to stability and prosperity in Egypt, and not the model of government brutality and repression we are currently witnessing’.

A video of the ISHR statement is available here.

Category:

Region
  • Middle East and North Africa
Topic
  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Human rights defenders
Mechanism
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Universal Periodic Review
Country
  • Egypt