Geneva: Climate activists and civil society were subjected to intimidation, harassment and surveillance during the COP27 climate summit in Sharm-el-Sheikh from 6-18 November 2022, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated today while quoting the United Nations experts.
It also expressed concern that once the spotlight shifts from Egypt at the conclusion of COP27, Egyptian human rights defenders could be targeted and risk reprisals for their engagement during the Conference.
“We call on Egypt to immediately end harassment and intimidation, to ensure the rights to participation, freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly at COP27, and abstain from reprisals against civil society, human rights defenders and indigenous peoples representatives who attended COP27,” it stated quoting the UN experts.
The OHCHR stated that the experts were in dialogue with the Government of Egypt and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat on this issue.
“We are deeply concerned by reported acts of harassment and intimidation by Egyptian officials, infringing the rights of Egyptian and non-Egyptian human rights and environmental defenders at COP27, including their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, and effective participation,” the experts said.
“Egypt must end all acts of harassment and intimidation and ensure the safety and full participation of human rights defenders and civil society at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP27) and beyond.”
It may be mentioned that the experts had issued a press release last month, raising concerns in the lead-up to COP27 and calling for full and safe participation of civil society actors and human rights defenders without reprisals.
However, the experts received multiple reports and evidence of civil society actors, including indigenous peoples, being stopped and interrogated by Egyptian security officers, and local security and support staff repeatedly monitoring and photographing civil society actors inside the COP27 venue. A human rights defender scheduled to attend COP27 was also denied entry to the country, the experts said.
The experts claimed they also received reports of activists being subject to intrusive questioning at the airport when entering Egypt, raising concerns that information collected on the activities of civil society organisations during COP27 could be misused.
“We are concerned that these actions by Egyptian authorities have a chilling effect, impacting wide segments of civil society participating in COP27 as many groups have expressed concern about the need to self-censor to ensure their safety and security,” they said.
The experts were The experts: Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism; and David Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment.
– global bihari bureau