Egypt: lifting restrictions on civic space to ensure the success of COP27

Egypt’s poor record in suppressing peaceful dissent and civic space should not jeopardize the success of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) to the Convention United Nations framework on climate change, due to start in less than six months in Egypt, Amnesty International said today.

In a detailed analysis published today, Amnesty International stresses that the spotlight on Egypt as it prepares to host COP27 should be used as an opportunity to press for meaningful human rights progress in the country. Amnesty International is calling on governments participating in COP27 to put pressure on Egyptian authorities to ensure the safe, effective and meaningful participation of civil society actors, Egyptian and non-Egyptian.

“COP27 is an important time to address the climate emergency, a human rights crisis of unprecedented scale,” said Philip Luther, Director of Research and Advocacy for the Middle East and Africa. North to Amnesty International. Given Egypt’s silencing of critical voices and stifling of independent organizations, there are growing concerns that civil society actors may not be able to engage freely with each other and with conference attendees, such as government and business representatives, to discuss issues critical to the well-being of the planet. coming. .

“Egyptian authorities should not be allowed to use COP27 as an attempt to improve their image, deflecting criticism from their human rights record. Instead, UN member states and international bodies and organizations participating in the event should lobby authorities, both private and public, to ensure the effective participation of Egyptian and international civil society. This requires authorities to loosen their grip on civic space, order security forces to allow peaceful protests, refrain from arrests or other reprisals against those who exercise their human rights or discriminate. unjust, and release all persons arbitrarily detained in these territories. patterns. » .

The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), to be held in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from 7 to 18 November 2022, represents an important moment for countries to present the proof that they are honoring the commitments they made under the Paris Convention and the COP26 conference, and adopting more decisions to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in compliance human rights. At COP27, countries must take bold action on emissions reductions, climate finance, loss and damage, and the Climate Improvement Agenda (ACE), ensuring meaningful public participation to meet their obligations human rights and protecting human rights for all, now and in the future. . .

COP27 is an important moment to address the climate emergency – a human rights crisis of unprecedented scale.

Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International

Participation of civil society

Hosting by an African state should further shed light on the priority demands of states and civil society in Africa. But at previous events hosted by Egypt, including that of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, some African activists raised concerns about visa denials, while others said being harassed by security forces and denied entry badges.

Independent Egyptian human rights activists and civil society representatives have also raised concerns about their inability to safely participate in COP27 and voice their opinions, for fear of reprisals. These concerns are justified, given the exposure of Egyptian human rights defenders to arbitrary detention, forced summonses for questioning, threats to shut down independent human rights organizations, travel bans, freezing of assets and other drastic methods to stop civil action. Egyptian authorities have warned independent NGOs to register under the strict law regulating the practice of civil work for the year 2019, under threat of closure by next year.

Philip Luther added: “In order to ensure the participation of a wide range of actors at COP27, the Egyptian authorities must immediately end their persecution of independent NGOs in Egypt. It should begin by closing all politically motivated criminal investigations against NGOs, lifting travel bans and other restrictive measures against staff, and bringing national legislation into line with its international obligations on the right to liberty. of association.

COP27 will be held in a repressive climate

As Egypt prepares to host COP27, thousands of people – including human rights defenders and journalists, peaceful protesters, lawyers, opposition politicians and activists – remain in Egyptian prisons in conditions that violate the absolute prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment, simply because they exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association or peaceful assembly, without a legal basis or after grossly unfair trials.

Egyptian authorities should not be allowed to use COP27 as an attempt to improve their image, diverting attention from criticism of their human rights record.

Philip Luther

Street protests have been an integral part of previous UN climate conferences, but are under threat this year. prosecutions, arrests of thousands of people, criminal trials, including on terrorism-related charges, and heavy sentences against peaceful protesters.

There are also concerns about the safety of all COP27 participants, given the Egyptian authorities’ appalling record of protecting women and LGBTI people from unfair discrimination and gender-based violence; In addition to prosecuting them for false charges such as “immorality” or violation of “public morals” or “immorality”, just for the way they dress, talk and express themselves on the networks social events, or for sexual relations between consenting adults.

context

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and represents all states party to the convention. It reinforces the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instrument adopted by the COP Conference. The COP conference meets annually, except in 2020, when the meeting was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The host countries for each conference are chosen according to a system of regional rotation, with the 27th COP conference to be held in Egypt. Environmental and human rights groups have raised issues of conference accessibility and affordability; The high cost of accommodation in hotels in Sharm el-Sheikh is expected to hamper the participation of local groups and activists; Especially from the Global South.

At COP27, countries are ready to deliver on the important commitments they made at COP26, such as improving emission reduction targets and phasing out fossil fuel and coal subsidies. As part of the Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage, it is also expected to agree on ways to provide additional financing to developing countries facing loss and damage from the climate crisis.

Amnesty International’s key demands for states ahead of COP27 are available here.

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