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"Egypt Stifles Freedoms" - NGO

FI:LE: Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Taken 11.19.2019
FI:LE: Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Taken 11.19.2019

Egyptian authorities "have continued to stifle freedoms" in the year since launching a national human rights strategy, Amnesty International said Wednesday, six weeks before Egypt hosts the COP27 climate summit.

Amnesty International's secretary general Agnes Callamard said Egypt's rights strategy amounts to "a shiny cover-up to their unrelenting violations of human rights, thinking they would fool the world ahead of COP27".

Egyptian "authorities have used it as a propaganda tool to conceal ever growing repression of any form of dissent", the London-based rights group said in a report on the strategy ahead of the climate summit.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launched the rights strategy in September 2021, while accusing international rights groups of being unaware of the full spectrum of "challenges facing the country".

Egypt was selected to host the UN climate summit in November, a choice rights groups have said "rewards" al-Sisi's "repressive rule".

"The grim reality of their notorious human rights record cannot be rebranded in a PR stunt," Callamard said.

Cairo has faced frequent criticism of its rights record under al-Sisi, who ousted late Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and was elected president the following year.

His administration led a crackdown that first targeted Islamists before widening to curtail all public space for dissent.

The international community must "put pressure on the Egyptian authorities" to "end the cycle of abuse and impunity, starting by releasing the thousands of critics and opponents arbitrarily detained in Egyptian jails," Amnesty said.

Advocacy groups say there are currently about 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt, with many facing brutal conditions and overcrowded cells.

Since al-Sisi reactivated a dormant presidential pardon committee this year, dozens of such prisoners have been released from provisional detention.

This week, as officials announced the release of scores more, activist Sherif al-Rouby was re-arrested on charges of spreading fake news and terrorism, according to rights advocates and local media.

His latest arrest comes just 100 days after he was released from two years of pre-trial detention in early June.

"All he was trying to do was write about the people still in prison, draw attention to them so they can get out," prominent rights lawyer Mahienour al-Massry tweeted.