Coinciding with calls for protests during COP27, government’s crackdown condemned by rights organizations

The undersigned human rights organizations condemn the Egyptian government’s crackdown in the leadup to the COP27 Climate Change Conference. Dozens of peaceful citizens in several governorates have been arrested and other exceptional repressive measures taken against the backdrop of calls to demonstrate in conjunction with COP27, to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh on 11 November.

The Egyptian authorities have recently launched an extensive arrest campaign, with security personnel arbitrarily apprehending citizens in streets and public places and randomly searching their personal phones, in flagrant violation of the right to privacy and the sanctity of correspondence. The rights of freedom of opinion, expression, and peaceful assembly are guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution and recognized by international conventions. Some detainees have been forcibly disappeared in National Security detention facilities for varying periods, and interrogated about recording and sharing video clips that included calls to demonstrate. The authorities have also set up multiple security checkpoints in public places, randomly stopping citizens with the aim of intimidating them. Security personnel have been forcing citizens to hand over their phones for inspection and searches. Social media accounts, personal messages and photos belonging to these citizens were checked by security forces, who were searching for evidence of involvement in any political activities considered to be critical of the political system. Any person who refused to hand over their phone for security check was arrested.

Numerous calls for a demonstration on 11 November 2022, in conjunction with the climate conference, spread on social media in October to protest the government’s economic policies. Human rights organizations monitored the arbitrary arrest of at least 138 citizens, in different governorates, including Cairo, Alexandria and Sharqia, from October 25-31. The Supreme State Security Prosecution decided to imprison all 138 citizens for 15 days following an investigation. The Public Prosecution charged them with joining a terrorist group, spreading false news, inciting terrorist crimes, and misusing social media, according to the two laws to combat information technology crimes and combat terrorism. The prosecution decided to detain them in connection with Case no. 1893 and Case no. 1691 of 2022. The Egyptian government also continues to target opposition and their families. University student Youssef Al-Ghamry was arrested on 25 October, in an apparent act of retaliation against his father,  opposition leader Hossam Al-Ghamry, who had promoted calls for demonstration on his social media page. Demands  are being made to clarify Youssef Al-Ghamry’s fate and whereabouts, and to stop reprisals against opponents abroad and their families.

The Egyptian government’s crackdown has extended to ensnare even non-Egyptian activists. Ajit Rajagopal, an Indian environmental activist, was arrested and detained in a police station on 30 October. Rajagopal had traveled to Egypt participate in COP27 Climate Summit.  After his arrest, his lawyer was also detained. After 24 hours his lawyer was released from detention first, with Rajagopal released afterwards.

The government’s recent arbitrary arrest campaign and intensified repression comes in response to the calls to demonstrate alongside COP27, further demonstrating the hollowness of any alleged human rights progress in Egypt, whether it be the climate conference, the national strategy for human rights, the national dialogue, or even the reformation of the Amnesty Committee. All of these are simply marketing tools to imply that the government’s widescale violations of human rights have de-escalated, while in reality, such violations continue to be perpetrated daily and systematically in Egypt.

The signatory organizations call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the detainees imprisoned against the backdrop of calls for demonstrations. The organizations demand the closure of the state security cases no. 1893 and no. 1691 of 2022, and the suspension of the state of security alert, aimed at intimidating citizens in the streets. We call on the security services to stop expanding restrictive practices against the rights and freedoms of citizens. We further call on international partners to ensure that the Egyptian government respects the right of citizens to peaceful assembly, free expression, and privacy in all governorates of Egypt, during and after the COP27 climate conference.

1. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
2. El Nadim Center
3. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
4. the association for freedom of thoughts and expression
5. the freedom initiative
6. Egypt wide
7. Sinai foundation for human rights
8. committee for justice
9. Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
10. the Egyptian Forum for Human Rights
11. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
12. refugee platform in Egypt

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