At a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, 31 countries voiced rare criticism of human rights violations in Egypt. For the first time since 2014, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and several European countries, including the Netherlands, signed a joint statement.
In Egypt under President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, human rights violations and restrictions on freedoms are on the increase. In fact, Human Rights Watch spoke of the “worst human rights crisis in decades” in Egypt.
The joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council meeting calls for greater freedom of expression and assembly, and for the release of journalists, activists, and alleged political opponents. They are being prosecuted under the guise of, among other things, an arbitrary counterterrorism law.
More space for civil society
Egypt is a close ally of the United States. Former US President Donald Trump called El-Sisi his “favorite dictator” in 2019. However, the current US President Joe Biden wants to speak out more against violations of human rights and the rule of law.
“We urge Egypt to ensure a space for civil society – including human rights defenders – to operate without fear of intimidation, harassment, arrest, detention or any other form of retaliation,” Finnish Ambassador Kirsty Kobe said while reading the statement.
In response, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was “surprised” and dissatisfied with the statement.
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