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CFJ bulletin on 3rd day of COP27: Digital surveillance, heckling Alaa Abdel-Fattah’s sister, and more detentions

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Continuous digital surveillance:

Some activists participating in the conference complained about their fears of the COP27 application, run by the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, which requires massive data on the user’s personal information. Media outlets also shed light on the blocking of a number of websites in Egypt, including Medium, Human Rights Watch, Huffington Post and Mada Masr, and the inability of conference participants to access them.

Attempts to disrupt conference by the sister of Alaa Abdel-Fattah:

Perhaps the most shocking scene from today’s summit was the heckling of Sana Seif, the sister of activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, during her conference by an Egyptian MP, Amr Darwish. Seif was speaking about her brother’s situation in light of his complete hunger and water strike when she was interrupted and publicly attacked by Darwish who denounced the demands for the release of Abdel Fattah. A UN security team had to escort him outside the headquarters for his insistence to shout at Sanaa.

Saeed Abdel Hafez, a member of the National Council for Human Rights, also made an intervention during the event in which he expressed reservation about the release of a person simply because he had obtained another foreign nationality. After the conference ended, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Abdel Fattah, expressing his grave concern for his health in light of the lack of any news for his family, in addition to what was announced yesterday by the Italian and British prime ministers who expressed their intention to discuss human rights during their meeting with President Sisi on the sidelines of the summit.

The Financial Times published a report today under the title COP27 shines spotlight on Egypt’s rights abuses. The report highlighted the sit-in of Alaa Abdel-Fattah’s family in front of the British Foreign Office building to press for his release, after the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, said yesterday in a press interview that he questioned Abdel Fattah’s strike and his obtaining British citizenship, and that this issue is being dealt with according to the Egyptian penal system. This was the first official public Egyptian comment on Abdel Fattah’s situation.

Discrepancy between Sharm El-Sheikh and the rest of the Egypt:

Egyptian authorities allowed some “safe” environmental protests in Sharm El-Sheikh on the sidelines of the conference, such as today’s demonstration to stop the use of single-use plastics. On the other hand, and in the rest of the Egyptian governorates and cities, the Committee for Justice documented the arrest of 27 people and interrogated them at the Supreme State Security Prosecution, against the background of the wave of arbitrary arrests carried out by the regime due to calls for demonstrations on November 11. CFJ also documented the arrest of human rights lawyer, Ahmed Nazeer Al-Helou, on Monday as he was forced to leave his home after returning from his work as a lawyer before the Public Prosecution, and his whereabouts remain unknown.

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