With 100 days to go until COP27, which is being hosted in Egypt, I have joined parliamentarians and climate organisations to raise concerns about repressive actions of the Egyptian authorities. For COP27 to be a success, it is essential that civil society, journalists and activists, can participate and mobilise fully and freely.
I have joined climate organisations and parliamentarians in signing this open letter:
If COP27 is to succeed, the visibility and positive pressure created by civic mobilisation will be vital – that must include full rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression around the conference, including for Egyptian civil society activists and journalists who are currently facing harsh repression for exercising these human rights.
But with only 100 days to go now until COP27 begins in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, we are deeply concerned that this will not be possible due to the repressive actions of the Egyptian government. Indeed, it seems more likely at this point that the conference will be used to whitewash human rights abuses in the country.
We join a recent call by 21 human rights organisations to state that: “We are alarmed at the Egyptian authorities’ unlawful restrictions on the rights to freedom of the press, of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, the severe constraints they have imposed on civil society, as well as their repression of peaceful political opposition and misuse of counterterrorism legislation to silence peaceful critics. Thousands continue to be arbitrarily detained in Egypt for peacefully practicing their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association. This includes staff of Egyptian independent civil society organizations, human rights defenders and activists in the field of economic, social, and cultural rights, and minority rights, as well as lawyers, journalists, academics, women social media influencers and artists.”
We echo all of the calls to action set out by the human rights organisations in their statement, including immediately and unconditionally releasing all those detained for practising their rights to freedom of expression, according to Egypt’s obligations under international law. This would signal that the Egyptian government is committed to ensuring that participants at COP27 may speak and assemble freely at the COP27 conference, without fear of reprisals. Prominent British-Egyptian activist and writer Alaa Abdel Fattah, on hunger strike for over 100 days and at risk of death, must be prioritised.
We call upon all of our climate envoys and political representatives to press with all urgency for these conditions to be met.