Egypt Watch

UN experts: ‘Egypt’s targeting of human rights defenders must stop’

Mary Lawler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, has condemned the systematic crackdown against human rights defenders. “I am extremely concerned by the seemingly unrelenting efforts of the Egyptian authorities to silence dissent and shrink civic space in the country, despite repeated calls from UN mechanisms and the international community,” said Lawlor in a call issued on the official website of the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. “The use of prolonged pretrial detention and misuse of anti-terrorism and national security laws to criminalise the work of civil society actors must end.”

Lawler addressed the case of Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan, the Egyptian blogger known as Mohamed Oxygen, who was arrested in 2018 and charged with joining a terrorist group. Although he was granted parole by the Cairo Criminal Court, he was inserted in a new case to keep him in detention. Another case was that of Patrick Zaki, a human rights researcher and post-graduate student, who was arrested one year ago.

Lawlor indicated that pretrial detention should only be used as the exception to the rule, rather than the default approach, showing concerns regarding the policies of the Egyptian authorities towards human rights defenders. The expert’s call has been endorsed by: Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, and Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.