Ahead of COP27, Open Civic Space and Release Everyone Arbitrarily Detained in Egypt

In the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27) taking place in Egypt’s resort town of Sharm El Sheikh from 7 to18 November 2022, the undersigned organizations, groups and individuals note with great concern the human rights situation in Egypt and in particular the government’s restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, which risk to undermine a successful, inclusive and participatory climate summit.

Advancing climate justice demands an inclusive, holistic approach to environmental policy that embeds human rights and tackles systemic problems, including historically rooted social injustices, ecological destruction, abuses by businesses, corruption and impunity, and social and economic inequality. The strongest voices across the world pushing back against these systemic problems, and in favor of more meaningful and ambitious climate action, have come from civil society.

We voice our support to the call made by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: that the work of civil society be recognized, publicly and at the highest levels, as essential to the advancement of climate action and just transition. Moreover, we stress the importance of the right to freedom of expression and independent reporting to foster efforts to address the climate crisis.

We emphasize that effective climate action is not possible without open civic space. As host of COP27, Egypt risks compromising the success of the summit if it does not urgently address ongoing arbitrarily restrictions on civil society.

We call on Egypt to ensure that civil society organizations, activists, and communities can meaningfully participate in all discussions and activities on climate and just-transition policy development and implementation at all levels of decision-making without fear of reprisals. Authorities must put in place transparent and inclusive processes to ensure that everyone, including women, Indigenous peoples and local communities, workers, youth, children, persons with disabilities, and other groups facing marginalization or discrimination, is provided with equal opportunities to effectively participate in climate decision-making.

We also call on Egypt to end the prosecutions of civil society activists and organizations and guarantee space for civil society—including human rights defenders—to work without fear of intimidation, harassment, arrest, detention, or any other form of reprisal, including by releasing of unjustly jailed human rights defenders, lifting arbitrarily travel bans and asset freezes and closing all politically-motivated cases against activists targeted for their human rights work.

Access to information is central to effective participation. To this end, we call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately end the arbitrarily blocking of websites and ensure access inside the country to the hundreds of independent media, human rights organizations and other blocked websites. We also call for the immediate release of all journalists who have been imprisoned solely for doing their job, and an end to restrictions on media and digital spheres.

We recognize that a select number of journalists, human rights defenders, and other individuals who had been arbitrarily detained were conditionally released in recent months. We urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those held simply for peacefully exercising their human rights, implementing criteria set by local NGOs for these releases: fairness, transparency, inclusiveness, and urgency.

Preparations for COP27 are taking place against the backdrop of an ongoing and deep-rooted human rights crisis in Egypt. The Egyptian authorities have for years employed draconian laws, including laws on counter terrorism, cyber crimes, and civil society, to stifle all forms of peaceful dissent and shut down civic space. We note that, under the current government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, thousands continue to be arbitrarily detained without a legal basis, following grossly unfair trials, or solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. Thousands are held in prolonged per-trial detention on the basis of spurious terrorism and national security accusations. Among those arbitrarily detained are dozens of journalists targeted for their media work, social media users punished for sharing critical online content, women convicted on morality-related charges for making Tik Tok videos, and members of religious minorities accused of blasphemy.

Prisoners are held in detention conditions that violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, and since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power hundreds have died in custody amid reports of denial of healthcare and other abuse. Egypt remains one of the world’s top executioners, executing 107 in 2020 to 83 in 2021, with at least 356 people sentenced to death in 2021, many following grossly unfair trials including by emergency courts. The crisis of impunity has emboldened Egyptian security forces to carry out extra-judicial executions and other unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture with no fear of consequences.

The Egyptian authorities must take meaningful steps to address the human rights crisis, including by lifting restrictions of civic space and ending their crackdown on peaceful dissent.

Led by:

  1. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
  2. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  3. Committee for Justice (CFJ)
  4. Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR)
  5. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
  6. EgyptWide for Human Rights
  7. El Nadeem Center Against Violence and Torture
  8. Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE)
  9. Sinai Foundation for Human Rights
  10. The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)
  11. The Freedom Initiative (FI)
  12. Egyptian Human Rights Forum

Supported by:

Organisations/groups:

  1. 350 Aotearoa
  2. AAA ACCOUNTANCY
  3. AbibiNsroma Foundation ANF
  4. Access Now
  5. Aid/Watch
  6. Amnesty International
  7. Arab Network for Knowledge about Human rights
  8. Asia Pacific Network of Environment Defenders
  9. ASSOCIATION DES AMIS DE LA NATURE AAN
  10. Association des jeunes pour le développement du Ouaddai
  11. Avli Initiative
  12. BankTrack
  13. CADIRE CAMEROON ASSOCIATION
  14. CAN Latin America
  15. CAN Tanzania
  16. CAN-Japan
  17. Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines Inc.
  18. Center for International Environmental Law
  19. Centre for Citizens Conserving Environment & Management (CECIC)
  20. Climate & Sustainability
  21. Climate Justice Alliance
  22. CNCD-11.11.11
  23. Coal Action Network Aotearoa
  24. Coalition Marocaine pour la Justice Climatique (CMJC)
  25. CODEPINK
  26. Collectif Sénégalais des Africaines pour la Promotion de l’Éducation Relative à l’Environnement ( COSAPERE)
  27. Commission on Environment and Climate Justice – International League of Peoples’ Struggle
  28. Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience
  29. Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
  30. DIGNITY – Danish Institute Against Torture
  31. Eastbourne Solidarity
  32. EcoEquity
  33. Ecologistas en Acción
  34. Egyptian Americans For Justice
  35. Emonyo Yefwe International
  36. Environmental conflict mediation and Women Development
  37. Environmental Justice Foundation
  38. Equidad de Genero: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia
  39. Fastenaktion
  40. Finnish Development NGOs – Fingo
  41. FOKUS – Forum for Women and Development
  42. FORUM DES ENGAGES POUR LE DÉVELOPPEMENT DURABLE
  43. Forum des Jeunes
  44. Franciscan Action Network
  45. Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  46. Friends of the Earth Germany/ BUND
  47. Friends of the Earth Scotland
  48. R.A.M.E.D
  49. GAIA – Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
  50. Gastivists Collective
  51. GenderCC-Women for Climate Justice e.V.
  52. Global Justice Now
  53. Heinrich Boell Foundation
  54. Human Rights Without Frontiers
  55. HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement
  56. ILPS Commission 10
  57. Indigenous Peoples’ Organisation-Australia
  58. International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)
  59. International Peace Bureau
  60. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  61. Kabataan para sa Tribung Pilipino (Katribu Youth)
  62. Karamoja Go Green
  63. Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY)
  64. Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation
  65. Ligue pour la solidarité congolaise
  66. Liverpool City Region Climate Justice Coalition
  67. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  68. Merdeka West Papua Support Network
  69. Migrante International
  70. Minority Rights Group International
  71. Mom Loves Taiwan Association
  72. NAJU (Youth Association for the Protection of Nature)
  73. NDEO
  74. NEW HOPE FOR THE POOR
  75. North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS)
  76. Observatório do Clima
  77. Observatory for the Protection of the Environment and Historical Monument
  78. Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania
  79. Protection International
  80. Reacción Climática
  81. Saharawi Active Youth
  82. Sankalpa Darchula Nepal, South Asia
  83. SERUNI
  84. Sisters of Charity Federation
  85. Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill
  86. Somali Youth Development Foundation (SYDF)
  87. Sukaar Welfare Organization
  88. The Green Youth Movement (DGUB) (Denmark)
  89. The Resilient40
  90. The SANE Collective
  91. Tipping Point UK
  92. Transnational Institute
  93. Tulele Peisa Inc
  94. UNISC International
  95. US Committe to End Political Repression in Egypt
  96. Vikas Adhyayan Kendra
  97. War on Want
  98. Water Justice and Gender
  99. Women Engage for a Common Future
  100. World Friends for Africa Burkina Faso/ Membership Organiser at CAN West and Central Africa
  101. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  102. Yorkshire and the Humber Climate Justice Coalition
  103. Youth for Development and Human Rights Advancement

Individuals:

  1. Ahti Tolvanen
  2. Akouete FOLLY QUMEGAWU
  3. Alia Hammad
  4. Andreas Moesch
  5. Aurelie Buytaert
  6. Basila Maya
  7. Bed Awa-ao
  8. Bernard Barré
  9. Beverley Binfield
  10. Beverly L. Longid
  11. Billon
  12. Bjørn Olav Utvik
  13. Carmen fulco
  14. Céline Lebrun Shaath
  15. Cesar Bollecer Jr
  16. Chanchana
  17. Chris Preston
  18. Chris Vrettos
  19. Christiane Hildebrandt
  20. Christina Isherwood
  21. Christina Maria Cecilia M. Sayson
  22. Christine-Anne
  23. corinna baudisch
  24. Daniel Leclerc
  25. David Jesero
  26. David Robertson
  27. Dayoon Kim
  28. Dr Oye Ideki
  29. Elle Glenny
  30. Elondra Eichenberger
  31. Francesca Biancani
  32. Francesco Correale
  33. Andrea Teti
  34. Gabriele Köhler
  35. Geoffrey Mock
  36. Gine Zwart
  37. Hendrik Voss
  38. Hubert Meisinger
  39. Isabelle Sain
  40. Ivan Hortal Sánchez
  41. Jeremy Adeba
  42. John Chalcraft
  43. Jorge Martínez
  44. Josh Hughes
  45. Julia Horn
  46. Julian Hirschmann
  47. Kerstin Doerenbruch
  48. Kjersti Aspheim
  49. Komla Bassah
  50. Lenka Hélová
  51. Lin Patterson
  52. Lorena Cotza
  53. Lydia Darby
  54. Mamadou SYLLA
  55. Mamta Lukram
  56. Manuel Leick-Jonard
  57. Mariam TOURE KEITA
  58. Marie Lecocq
  59. Mario Caffera
  60. Mark Doran
  61. martin mantxo
  62. Martin Vilela
  63. Mehdy BELABBAS
  64. Melony
  65. Mia Bradić
  66. Michael Barkley
  67. Michael Ineichen
  68. Michael Taylor
  69. Michel Vanhoorne
  70. Mounir Satouri
  71. Narasimha Reddy Donthi
  72. Natalie Rivas
  73. Natasha
  74. Ndivile Mokoena
  75. nelia lauper
  76. PASCALE ROUX
  77. Rachel Allen
  78. Ramy Shaath
  79. Rosa van Driel
  80. Roshan Lal
  81. Salma El Hosseiny
  82. sarah sakouti
  83. Shaimaa Elbanna
  84. Shaon Zeiler
  85. Shima
  86. Simone Lennerz
  87. Sofie Bech Larsen
  88. Sophie Maziane
  89. Stephen Crozier
  90. Stephen Hicks
  91. Steve Ongerth
  92. Ted Swedenburg
  93. Veena Balakrishnan
  94. Yazan Badran
  95. Yohei Takata
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