Summary: Human rights NGOs call on States to urgently address Egypt’s systematic repression of human rights defenders and organisations

Eight human rights organisations from around the world, including SRT grantees International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), ConectasGulf Center for Human RightsCenter for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) and the International Commission of Jurists, have called on the UN Human Rights Council to take urgent action to protect human rights defenders in Egypt.

In their joint oral statement to the Council, the groups highlighted Egypt’s incompatibility with the Vienna Declaration and Programme for Action, a UN consensus document that enshrines the universal nature of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and makes clear that the “administration of justice, […] especially an independent judiciary and legal profession in full conformity with applicable standards contained in international human rights instruments, are essential to the full and non-discriminatory realization of human rights”. The statement further condemned the failure of the government of Egypt to protect civil society.

The statement follows the freezing of assets and bank accounts of a number of the country’s leading organisations earlier this month. Five human rights defenders – Bahey el din Hassan, Hossam Bahgat, Gamal Eid, Mostafa El-Hassan, and Abdel Hafiz Tayel – and three human rights NGOs – Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Hisham Mubarak Law Center, and Center for the Right to Education – are accused of using ‘foreign funds’ for illegal purposes.

The Human rights NGOs have called on the government of Egypt to close Case no. 173, known as the ‘foreign funding case’, and to immediately end all forms of harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders.

ISHR Programme Manager Pooja Patel said, “Egyptian human rights defenders need the support of this Council, particularly those States that have repeatedly expressed their commitment to protecting human rights defenders. We urge States to demonstrate their genuine leadership in this regard.”

The full statement can be found here.

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