UN rights body should ensure scrutiny for abuses in Egypt

Human Rights Watch

Madam President,

In the six months since a large cross-regional group of states delivered a joint statement on Egypt’s steadily deteriorating human rights situation, the Egyptian government has continued its widespread human rights violations and stifling of all forms of dissent and peaceful expression in a climate of total impunity.

Building from the shocking arrests and investigation of senior staff of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and the freezing of their assets in abusive proceedings before a terrorism court in November 2020, we have seen Egyptian authorities continue their sustained attacks against human rights defenders in the country.

Since July, Egyptian authorities summoned at least seven prominent human rights defenders for questioning as part of a decade-old criminal investigation related to alleged foreign funding, including EIPR’s Executive Director Hossam Bahgat. Bahgat separately faces trial based on a tweet criticizing the National Elections Authority (NEA). Last week, the trial of EIPR staff member Patrick Zaki started before an extraordinary State Security Court whose decisions are not subject to appeal, also on charges violating his free expression rights. A dozen or more activists linked to the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, including lawyer Ezzat Ghoniem detained for over three years, now face criminal trial before the State Security Court for doing their job.

Human Rights Watch has just published a report finding that Egypt’s Interior Ministry police and National Security Agency officers apparently killed dozens of alleged “terrorists” across the country in extrajudicial executions they claimed were “shootouts.”

In this context, the Council should act decisively to secure UN monitoring and reporting of the Egyptian government’s pervasive abuses and ensure the government does not continue to evade scrutiny amidst its increasingly brutal and systematic repression.

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