Thank you, Mr. President,
Assistant Secretary General Gilmour, Human Rights Watch thanks you for your latest report. We are deeply concerned that Egypt has committed further acts of intimidation and reprisals against individuals cooperating with this Council and its mechanisms. Your report addressed the forced eviction and other violations against individuals who cooperated with the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing during her visit to Egypt in 2018, as well as several other civil society representatives and their families.
These cases are part of a wider pattern of reprisals and crackdown against civil society in Egypt, reflecting the negative trends identified in your report. There is a pattern of government-sponsored smear campaigns against individuals involved in human rights advocacy. In June 2019, pro-government TV presenter Ahmed Mousa accused Human Rights Watch researcher Amr Magdi of being a terrorist because he had drafted a report about abuses in Egypt’s North Sinai. Mousa said that Magdi will be “brought back” to Egypt and “executed.” Hafez Abu Saeda, a member of the government-sponsored National Human Rights Council, falsely claimed that Magdi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, designated as a terrorist organization by the government.
In April and May 2019, several African human rights activists who took part in the 64th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Egypt faced acts of reprisals, including two female participants who were physically assaulted by registration officials and others harassed in the airport upon arrival or who reported physical surveillance in the conference and hotel rooms. Around 70 people were not able to obtain the necessary visas on time. Several Egyptian civil society groups critical of the government did not participate due to fear of reprisals.
These violations are further enabled by a repressive legal framework. This August, President al-Sisi approved a new NGO law that maintains most of the draconian restrictions in the 2017 law, and which make it impossible for NGOs to function without government and security agencies interference.
ASG Gilmour, your report recommends increased multinational engagement to address reprisals such as those committed by Egypt – what action should the Council take to further address chronic reprisals by States?