Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power in 2013, thousands of people have been arrested and detained for political reasons, and have often been held in appalling conditions.
Today, Sunday 6 November, the German government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, Luise Amtsberg, criticised the human rights situation in Egypt, saying that it did not meet the responsibilities of a country hosting the UN’s Conference of Parties, or COP27.
And, in a statement, Amtsberg called for the release of journalist and activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah and his lawyer, Muhammad Al-Baqer.
Amtsberg warned that “when the fear of repression prevails, the commitment of society cannot last in the long term.”
Egypt “plays a leading role in organising this conference,” said Amtsberg, referring to COP27. This involves “a commitment to protecting human rights in the first place”, the German official continued.
“Assuming global responsibility also means, above all, assuming responsibility for the protection of human rights”, said Amtsberg.
“However, the human rights situation in Egypt does not do justice to this”, she continued.
“The fact that people who want to express their opinions freely and stand up for that right are punished with long prison sentences – sometimes under inhumane conditions – is unacceptable,” Amtsberg said.
Amtsberg’s statement mentioned Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a prominent figure during the 2011 revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, who has since 2019 been imprisoned. In 2021 he was sentenced to five years imprisonment for “spreading false news”.
The German official said that “the release of Abdel-Fattah, who is in serious danger because of his hunger strike, along with other political prisoners, will be an important sign that Egypt takes this responsibility seriously.”
Several international campaigns for human rights were launched in advance of COP27, to be held at Sharm el-Sheikh.