Authorities in Egypt have shown no genuine will to acknowledge, let alone address, the country’s deep-rooted human rights crisis despite launching a National Human Rights Strategy one year ago, an Amnesty International report released on Wednesday says.
AI said the authorities in Egypt have continued to stifle freedoms and commit crimes under international law in the lead up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), which the country is slated to host in November.
In its new report “Disconnected from Reality”: Egypt’s National Human Rights Strategy covers up human rights crisis, AI detailed how authorities have used propaganda to conceal ever growing repression of any form of dissent ahead of COP27.
“Egyptian authorities have created the National Human Rights Strategy as a shiny cover-up to their unrelenting violations of human rights, thinking they would fool the world ahead of COP27. But the grim reality of their notorious human rights record cannot be rebranded in a PR stunt,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“The international community must not be deceived by Egypt’s attempts to conceal the magnitude of the human rights crisis in the country. It must instead put pressure on the Egyptian authorities in public and in private, to take meaningful steps to end the cycle of abuse and impunity, starting by releasing the thousands of critics and opponents arbitrarily detained in Egyptian jails, easing their grip of civil society and allowing peaceful protests.”
Amnesty International’s new report is based on extensive documentation of patterns of human rights violations committed in Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power, as well as information gathered since the launch of the National Human Rights Strategy (NHRS) from multiple sources, including victims, witnesses, human rights defenders and lawyers.
The organization also reviewed official documents, audio-visual evidence, and reports by UN bodies among others. Findings and recommendations were shared with the Egyptian authorities on 7 September 2022.
A misleading picture
Since the launch of the NHRS, the Egyptian authorities have repeatedly referred to it in public and in private meetings with other governments as evidence of their commitment to human rights,AI says.
It says the five-year strategy was drafted by the government without any consultation with independent human rights organizations or public engagement and presented a deeply misleading picture of the human rights crisis in Egypt.
''It absolves the authorities of any responsibility by blaming security threats, economic challenges and Egyptian citizens themselves for “failing to understand” and exercise their rights'' AI adds.
AI also claims that the strategy lauds the constitutional and legal framework, while ignoring the authorities’ introduction and application of a series of repressive laws that effectively criminalize or severely restrict the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
''These laws further eroded guarantees of fair trial, and entrenched impunity for security and military forces'' it adds.