The International Federation of Journalists has called on European Union leaders and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo to speak out against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s crackdown on journalists and press organizations in Egypt. This coincided with Sisi’s visit to the Belgian capital, Brussels, to participate in the Euro-African Summit.
The federation issued a statement stressing that the Egyptian government is notorious for arresting journalists and imprisoning them in poor conditions and depriving them of their basic rights such as visits and decent medical care, which are flagrant violations of the Egyptian constitution and international conventions related to freedom of opinion and expression and the treatment of prisoners.
According to the statistics of the federation, there are currently 27 journalists in Egyptian prisons simply for doing their work. The figure shows the Egyptian government as the largest jailer of journalists in the region. The statement stated that the Egyptian authorities have, over the past years, imprisoned journalists because of their press reports or the opinions they express on social media. Journalists are often held on false charges for long periods, with additional charges brought as a justification for increasing the time they spend in detention.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity for European and Belgian leaders to send a clear message to Sisi that Europe will not cooperate with him until he stops repressing journalists and press institutions,” said Anthony Bellanger, Secretary General of the International Federation of Journalists. “Any agreement with Egypt should be conditional on the immediate release of all imprisoned journalists, and should also include clauses relating to freedom of expression to guarantee the basic rights of Egyptian media workers. If not, the summit will help the Egyptian regime polish its image and grant it immunity internationally while continuing its policy of repression of journalists.”