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CFJ and African Defenders urge UN Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to condemn targeting and defamation of director at “Sinai Human Rights Foundation”

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Egypt – AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network) and the Committee for Justice (CFJ) petition the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa to condemn the State-sponsored smear campaign and security threats targeting Ahmed Salem, Egyptian Human Rights Defender, and Director of the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights.

 

KAMPALA, Uganda and GENEVA, Switzerland, 6 March 2024 – AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network) and the Committee for Justice (CFJ) have jointly petitioned the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa of the ACHPRs, Hon. Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, on behalf of Mr. Ahmed Salem, director of the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights. The Egyptian authorities and pro-government figures have recently engaged in a violent and unprecedented against the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights, an Egyptian human rights group focusing on the militarized North Sinai region, threatening the safety and security of its director, staff, and affiliates.

 

The Sinai Foundation has been one of the main independent, credible sources of information relaying information about developments in the North Sinai region, which Egyptian security forces have turn into a closed military zone, displacing tens of thousands of its residents and imposing severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods, which have brought commercial and economic activity, for several years, to a near halt. Despite the ability of the Egyptian military to eradicate Wilayt Sina’, the indigenous and tribal people of the Sinai Peninsula continue to be subject to forcible displacement at the hands of the military, the destruction of farmland, severe restrictions on their movement and the movement of goods, and above all, a severe crackdown on peaceful expression and civil society initiatives.

 

Ahmed Salem is an Egyptian Human Rights activist based in the United Kingdom. He received threats that he “would be brought back to Egypt” if he did not drop his work through intermediaries close to Egyptian Government. A government-appointed Sinai local clan leader warned that Salem “is not far from reach even abroad”. Despite living in the United Kingdom with his wife and children, Ahmed Salem fears that the authorities could target his family members still in Egypt. On 22 February, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, urged “the Egyptian government to ensure  the safety of [Salem] and [that of] his family’s”.

 

“The targeted attacks against Salem and the Sinai Foundation, a leading source of independent information in North Sinai, threaten the very core of human rights advocacy and freedom of expression in Egypt”, said Ahmed Mefreh, executive director of Committee for Justice. “These actions not only endanger Salem’s safety and that of his family but also aim to silence a critical voice exposing human rights violations in militarized North Sinai. The international community must stand in solidarity with Ahmed Salem and all human rights defenders facing repression, ensuring their protection and the continuation of their indispensable work”, added Mefreh.

 

“AfricanDefenders stands in solidarity with Ahmed Salem and the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights in their courageous efforts to defend human rights in Egypt. “We condemn the smear campaign and threats targeting Ahmed Salem and reaffirm our commitment to supporting human rights defenders across Africa in their fight for justice and accountability”, stated Hassan Shire, Chairperson of AfricanDefenders.

 

Hence, AfricanDefenders and Committee for Justice requested the Special Rapporteur to urgently intervene to pressure the Egyptian Government into immediately and unconditionally halting reprisals against the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights, its director, and staff. We also requested the Special Rapporteur to call upon the Egyptian Government to allow independent investigation and reporting to enable assessment of the general human rights situation in the country, but also looking into areas that are of concerns to human rights defenders.

 

About AfricanDefenders and the Committee for Justice:

  • AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network) is a network of five African sub-regional organisations, dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights defenders (HRDs) across the African continent.
  • The Committee for Justice (CFJ) is an independent association for the defense of human rights based in Geneva, Switzerland and established in 2015 by a diverse group of human rights advocates. It seeks to defend victims of and persons vulnerable to human rights violations with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

 

Contacts:

For more information and media requests or inquiries, please get in touch with us (+41229403538 / media@cfjustice.org)

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