Ahead of COP27, 12 Egyptian human rights organizations launched a petition, which is supported by 321 organizations/groups and 1079 individuals from over 80 countries across Africa, Asia, Pacific, Europe, North, and South America, including human rights and climate justice activists, groups and organizations, campaigners, advocates, organizers, academics, journalists, writers, trade unionists, COP27 negotiators, researchers, lawyers, students, and engineers. Six members of parliaments including Séverine de Laveleye, Simon Moutquin (Belgium), Abdallah Mahamadou (Niger), Anja Hazekamp (European Parliament), Idoia Villanueva Ruiz ( European Parliament and Head of the international secretariat of Podemos, Spain), and Mounir Satouri (European Parliament), Marie Lecocq (Member of the Brussels regional Parliament) have signed the petition.
The petition calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those held simply for peacefully exercising their human rights, implementing criteria set by local NGOs for these releases: fairness, transparency, inclusiveness, and urgency.; immediately end the arbitrarily blocking of websites and immediately release all journalists, and end to restrictions on media and digital spheres; end the prosecutions of civil society activists and organizations and guarantee space for civil society—including human rights defenders—to work without fear of intimidation, harassment, arrest, detention, or any other form of reprisal and ensure that civil society organizations, activists, and communities can meaningfully participate in all discussions and activities on climate and just-transition policy development and implementation at all levels of decision-making without fear of reprisals. On 18 October 2022 , the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the Ordinary Sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ForumAchpr73) adopted the petition as a resolution.
Mohamed Abdel Salam, Executive Director, Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said: “The main needed step to reach climate justice is to stop all repressive policies and respect human rights. Egyptian citizens don’t have any chance to get knowledge regarding the effects of climate change and the Egyptian authorities don’t guarantee their fundamental rights to face these effects and raise their demands. That’s a result of many repressive policies such as the security control of media outlets, restricting civil society activities, freezing the issuance of access to information law and declining independence of the judiciary.”
Yasmin Omar, UN and Regional Mechanisms Manager, Committee for Justice said: “Addressing the environmental crises can not be utilized to greenwash the reputation of one of the worst abusers of human rights in the world. The world’s solidarity with our demands created a unique momentum to center human rights in vital discussions during COP27 and to call on Egypt to take concrete steps to release rights detainees and open up civic space.”
Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said: “We stand in solidarity with brave Egyptians human rights defenders, who continue in their legitimate human rights work in the face of politically-motivated prosecutions, imprisonment, harassment, travel bans, and other impossible restrictions. A vibrant and free civil society is key to securing climate justice.”
Tasneem Essop, Executive Director, Climate Action Network International: “Human rights, including the freedoms of expression, protest and assembly, are the very essence of our struggle for climate justice. Climate action requires that we can raise our voice, speak truth to power, take to the streets in protest and challenge those in positions of authority and power to ensure that they take measures to protect the rights to health and a healthy environment, right to food, right to water and the right to life of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis. We stand in solidarity with all prisoners of conscience being detained without a fair trial and facing uncertain and indefinite prison terms. We call on the Egyptian government to release them all and establish a political environment that is respectful of basic human rights as established by the UN.”
Neil Hicks, Senior Director for Advocacy, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) said: “There are no environmental rights without human rights. If governments’ officials brush aside tens of thousands of political prisoners and a sealed shut civic space in Egypt, then they are also likely to dismiss the need for tangible environmental action during COP“.
Ahmed Salem, of the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights said: “The Egyptian state must facilitate the return and compensation of the forcibly displaced from Sinai, stop expropriating their lands, homes, and resources. Sinai residents must have guarantees of their right to free movement, expression, organization and peaceful assembly. I also call on all attendees of the COP27, including activists, human rights defenders, and organizations in the field of environmental protection and human rights, to take into consideration the suffering of the inhabitants who live on the land where the conference hosted, the Sinai Peninsula.”
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