Hundreds of EU, US lawmakers urge Egyptian leader to release prisoners of conscience


More than 222 lawmakers from across Europe and 56 members of both chambers of the US Congress urged President al-Sisi to halt the unjust imprisonment of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and political activists in Egypt.

In a show of mounting concern, members of EU and US parliaments earlier this week, sent public letters to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi with a strong message denouncing the situation of prisoners of conscience in the country.

The lawmakers denounced the situation of prisoners of conscience in the countrywho have been imprisoned solely for exercising their human rights.

The letters to the Egyptian president was endorsed and undersigned by international rights organisations including Amnesty International, EuroMed Rights, ACAT France, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and the Freedom Initiative among others.

The undersigned organisations consider this to be a timely and much needed step to address the dismal human rights situation in the country and call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained.

The rights organisation said it is high time for the Egyptian authorities to uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and to break the cycle of impunity for serious human rights violations.

The letters come amid a continued deterioration of human rights in Egypt, just weeks after the Egyptian authorities once again resorted to unlawful force, mass arrests and censorship to crackdown on protests against the deteriorating economic situation.

Despite the high risk to their lives, safety and freedom, Egyptians continue to make their voices heard even after authorities instrumentalised the COVID-19 pandemic to further curb fundamental freedoms and clamp down on any criticism of its handling of the health crisis.

The lawmakers called on Egypt to prioritise the human rights of detainees particularly at this time of aggravated health risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letters, issued one after another in the US and Europe, echo similar calls made earlier this year by the UNHCR, UN human rights experts and international health bodies, and demonstrate increasing concerns regarding the prevailing climate of impunity in Egypt.

Some of the prisoners of conscience named in the letters include Ramy Shaath and Zyad el Elaimy who both have spent over a year in pre-trial detention for their peaceful political activism.

Human rights lawyers Mohamed al-Baqer and Mahienour al Massry were also named in the letters, having been targeted and detained for representing victims of enforced disappearance or arbitrary detention.

Journalists Esraa Abdel Fattah, Solafa Magdy, Hossam al-Sayyad, and Mahmoud Hussein have all been detained for their critical reporting or views, further denying the public its right to information.

Finally, the letters also named detained human rights researchers, including Patrick Zaki and Ibrahim Ezz el-din who have been held in detention amidst the authorities’ zero tolerance to human rights activism. (Source: Amnesty Intl.)