top of page

We the undersigned organizations are alarmed by the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt in the midst of the current COVID-19 crisis.

15 Mai 2020

In recent years, the Egyptian government has launched a massive crackdown on civil society organizations, activists, political opponents, journalists, and minorities. Laws have been enforced to restrict the basic rights and freedoms of Egyptian citizens and organizations, resulting in dozens of thousands of people being imprisoned (sometimes staying in pre-trial detention for years), thousands of cases of forced disappearances, and numerous cases of travel bans, assets freezes, shutting downs of places and organizations…

The current COVID-19 crisis has led to an even bigger escalation in the repressive tendencies of the Egyptian regime, amid a general context of rising nationalism and widespread State propaganda.

We express our deep concern about the flagrant violations of human rights that have recently occurred in Egypt, among them: 

  • The arrest of female social media figures, such as Haneen Hossam and Sama El-Masry,  under “moral” pretexts, and the diversion of the laws on cybersecurity and debauchery to target them ;

  • The arrest and disappearance of female translator and researcher Kholoud Said Amer, who has been abducted from her home in Alexandria on April 21, 2020, and arrested under false charges of joining a banned terrorist group, spreading false news and misusing social media ;

  • The arrest and disappearance of female citizen Marwa Arafa, who has been abducted from her home in Cairo by security officers on April 20, 2020, and arrested under false charges of joining and financing a banned terrorist group ;

  • The arrest of Abeer El-Sayed and Nashwa Abdel Rahman for filming a video asking for the release of prisoners for fear of COVID-19 ;

  • The addition of Egyptian-Palestinian activist Ramy Shaath and human rights lawyer Zyad al-Elaimy, along with 11 other detainees, on the government’s “terrorist list” while they are being arbitrarily detained in pretrial detention for peacefully expressing their opinions ;

  • The eviction of The Guardian’s correspondent Ruth Michaelson of the country for publishing information contradicting the official numbers of COVID-19 contamination ;

  • The arrest and prosecution of journalists, lawyers, and activists on charges related to the publication of information or comments regarding the Corona epidemic (Case No. 558 of 2020);

  • The renewal of the detention period for hundreds of people held in custody without being given the possibility to even attend the hearing session ;

  • The complete lack of transparency on the way that the Egyptian government is preventing the spread of COVID-19 in its detention centers, while visits have been suspended ;

  • The announcement by Egyptian officials that activists, political prisoners, and people in pre-trial detention will be specifically excluded from any release of prisoners ;

  • The death of filmmaker and photographer Shady Habash in the Tora prison while he was being detained for 2 years in pretrial detention ;

  • The renewal, once again, of the State of emergency, for 3 months, giving the Egyptian government the possibility to continue its crackdown on dissidents, political opponents, and minorities.

In light of the above, we demand that the Egyptian government:

  • Stops its systematic repression of all dissident voices, especially activists, journalists, artists, members of minority groups ;

  • Releases all detainees, and especially people over the age of 60, people with a health condition, prisoners of conscience and pretrial detainees;

  • Drops all charges against people arbitrarily arrested for expressing their opinion ;

  • Implements health and security measures in all detention centers to protect detainees and workers from the spread of the virus ;

  • Discloses the location of all detainees, and ensure that they are treated accordingly to international laws ;

  • Abolishes law No 175/2018 (cybercrime), law No 149/2019 (NGO law), law 10/1961 (debauchery), and all other laws which violate the human rights guarantees provided by Egypt's Constitution and binding international human rights commitments.

​We also call all European governments and institutions to condition their relations with the Egyptian government to the respect of international Human rights standards.


Arab Network for Knowledge about Human rights (ANKH)

Committee For Justice

Egyptian Human Rights Forum

Initiative Franco-Egyptienne pour les Droits et les Libertés

bottom of page