IslamNews – The United States, which has observer status at the U.N. Human Rights Council, was among 31 signatories of the joint statement on Egypt, the first since 2014, which called on Cairo to lift curbs on freedoms of expression and assembly, According to Reuters.
Egypt’s foreign ministry expressed “great surprise and disapproval” in reaction to the statement, which it said contained inaccurate information without proof.
“We urge Egypt to guarantee space for civil society – including human rights defenders – to work without fear of intimidation, harassment, arrest, detention or any other form of reprisal,” Finland’s ambassador Kirsti Kauppi said, reading out the statement to the Geneva forum.
“That includes lifting travel bans and asset freezes against human rights defenders – including EIPR staff,” she said, referring to three activists from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights arrested last November after briefing senior diplomats in Cairo.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013, has overseen an extensive crackdown on political dissent that has steadily tightened in recent years. Sisi has said there are no political prisoners in Egypt and that stability and security are paramount.