HRC45 – MRG raises alarm at the crackdown on the human rights movement in Egypt
Human Rights Council – 45th Session
Geneva, Thursday 24th September 2020
General Debate – item 4
Thank you Madame President,
Minority Rights Group is gravely concerned about the crackdown on the human rights movement in Egypt, that has further increased in the last year. Human rights defenders, including Mohammed El-Baqer, Patrick Zaki and Ramy Kamel have been arrested on trumped charges related to incitement to terrorism, misuse of social media and spreading false news, in relation to their work of defence and promotion of human rights for all Egyptians, including Egypt’s religious and ethnic minorities.
They have been subjected to prolonged periods of pre-trial detention and are facing trials that lack due process and violate fair trial standards. Many of these defenders were subjected to torture while in custody and remain in solitary confinement. They have been subjected to smear campaigns in the Egyptian media.
During the COVID-19 lockdown between March and August 2020, the defendants were not brought to the pretrial custody renewal sessions. Renewals took place without the presence of the defendants, nor of the lawyers, in violation of the right to a legal defence. They were also prevented from seeing their relatives and lawyers and communication with them was heavily restricted.
MRG is also concerned by the persistent violations of freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief through the operation of blasphemy laws in Egypt. In June, two members of the Shi’a community were convicted on blasphemy charges for manifesting their beliefs in public and received one year prison sentences each. An atheist also saw his three-year sentence and a heavy fine upheld by an Appellate Court in Alexandria in June for creating a Facebook page named “Egyptian Atheists”.
We call on this Council to address the dire situation of human rights in Egypt, including the situation of defenders and of religious minorities and other vulnerable groups in the country.
I thank you.