Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: 21 July 2022
Yasmine Omar, the United Nations and Regional Manager at the Committee for Justice, stressed that US President Joe Biden should acknowledge United Nations resolutions issued regarding many detainees in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and to exercise pressure for their implementation.
The need to talk about detainees:
“It’s time to call on President Biden to acknowledge UN resolutions issued for detainees like Alaa Abdel Fattah who enters his 103th day of hunger strike today in objection to unfair treatment, to abuses, to torture to ignoring his hunger strike,” Omar said in a conversation organized by the DC-based Freedom Initiative on Twitter.
She also referred to the case of human rights lawyers, such as Amr Imam, who has been in solitary detention for more than 1000 days.
Omar added that the same applies to people who are affiliated with the US, either relatives to US citizens or residents in the US like Salah Sultan, father of American human rights defender Mohammed Soltan and also a PhD student Waleed Salim who has been wrongfully banned from traveling for years now without legal basis.
“I think this is a significant time to be raising these voices, to be speaking of these cases, and to use these legal mechanisms to influence the political decision in Egypt,” she stressed.
Support may lead to more violations:
Omar argued that any friendly visit to countries that have a large record of human rights violations could encourage these countries to commit more violations in the future or might encourage them to maintain their policies as they are. However, President Biden will meet with President Sisi, so it is now important to discuss the situation of political and arbitrary detention, which has been endemic in Egypt during the past eight years, as well as explaining some of the strategies and plans that Egypt has announced recently and reveal the reality of those plans.
“Egypt has announced a new strategy for human rights months ago and until now we haven’t seen any real changes, while Egypt is announcing releasing detainees in rights cases announcing numbers like 200 people were released since last April when the president enacted a new amnesty committee. However, according to CFJ’s statistics, we documented over 500 new arrests since last April until now, which is far more than the number of releases,” said Omar.
Message to the US President:
Omar sent a message to the US president, saying: “Don’t be fooled by strategies that are not really changing the situation, by efforts announced to only whitewash the reputation of states with a significant record of abuses. I feel this is the right time to hear more talk about human rights, we are tired of seeing meetings saying: ‘Yes, we discussed human rights’, without explaining what was discussed, and the consequences of that.”