UN rights experts urge Egypt to drop two activists from ‘terrorist’ list

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UN independent human rights experts appealed to Egyptian authorities on Thursday to remove Ramy Shaath and Zyad El-Elaimy from a “terrorist” list and to stop systemic misuse of counter-terrorism powers.

Cairo’s Criminal Court ruling in April last year, put Ramy Shaath, Egyptian-Palestinian human rights defender, and Zyad al-Elaimy, former member of Parliament and human rights lawyer, on Egypt’s “terrorist list” for a period of five years.

An appeal to remove them from the list was heard on Wednesday and the decision is due on March 10.

“We are deeply disturbed about counter-terrorism law, its definitions, misuse and the practice by the Egyptian authorities, and in particular the misuse of listing procedures at national level, to attack individuals engaged in human rights work,” the experts said in their statement.

“The continued misuse of counter-terrorism powers is not consistent with the State’s international law obligations and undermines broader international efforts to prevent terrorism by misusing such powers domestically.”

They also were “highly concerned” that Mr. Shaath and Mr. El-Elaimy apparently were added to the list “without evidence” and in their absence.

“Such absence of process is profoundly regrettable and raises concern that the authorities are targeting human rights defenders and civil society actors”, their statement continued.

The rights experts include members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention which issued a recent opinion that found Mr. Shaath was arbitrarily detained and should be immediately released.

“We are deeply disturbed about counter-terrorism law, its definitions, misuse and the practice by the Egyptian authorities, and in particular the misuse of listing procedures at national level, to attack individuals engaged in human rights work”, they added. “

“The continued misuse of counter-terrorism powers is not consistent with the State’s international law obligations and undermines broader international efforts to prevent terrorism by misusing such powers domestically.”

The experts urged the Egyptian Government to ensure measures to combat terrorism and protect national security comply with international law and do not hinder the work or safety of human rights defenders.

“These cases are among many others in the past five years in which the Working Group has found the Government of Egypt to be in violation of its international human rights obligations,” they said.

“We are concerned that this indicates a systemic problem with human rights protections in Egypt, as well as a systemic problem in the abuse and misuse of counter-terrorism laws and practices.”

The statement was issued by Fionnuala NíAoláin, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, alongside five members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. (Source: UN News)

 

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