Human Rights Watch played a key role in helping to stop the deportation of hundreds of Sudanese demonstrators who were violently removed from their Cairo encampment by Egyptian police. Approximately 3,000 Sudanese refugees and migrants lived in a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees, which had been the site of a three-month protest over living conditions. On December 30, 2005, around 4,000 Egyptian police surrounded the camp, fired water cannons into the crowd, and beat protestors. At the end of the melee, at least 27 people, including one child, had been killed.
Human Rights Watch spoke out publicly against the brutal and indiscriminate nature of the assault and met with Egypt's ambassador in Washington. We emphasized the separation of children from their parents and the loss of key personal documents as a result of the police violence. Following the detention of hundreds of people, we expressed concern that those slated for deportation to Sudan could be at risk of persecution in that country, especially those from the Darfur region. International law prohibits the return of refugees to places where they face persecution. Based in part on our advocacy, the Egyptian government subsequently released all detainees from Darfur, along with women, children, and those who were previously granted refugee or asylum-seeker status. As of yet, there have been no deportations. Human Rights Watch continues to call for an independent investigation to determine responsibility for the police attack.