Egypt accused of stifling green groups ahead of climate summit

·1-min read
AP - Fareed Khan

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the Egyptian government of undermining the work of environmental groups two months before the country hosts the much-anticipated UN global summit Cop27.

Some 200 nations will be at the annual Conference of the Parties in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, along with hundreds of observers and NGOs.

"The Egyptian government has imposed arbitrary funding, research, and registration obstacles that have debilitated local environmental groups, forcing some activists into exile and others to steer clear of important work," said Richard Pearshouse, HRW’s environment director.

Such restrictions, HRW added, violated the rights to freedom of assembly and threatened Egypt's ability to uphold its commitments as the host of Cop27 in November.

Activists 'fearful'

The rights group said it had gotten its information after speaking to 13 activists, academics, scientists and journalists involved in climate action in Egypt.

Its sources, who remain anonymous, said activists were fearful of drawing attention to issues including industrial pollution and the military's involvement in "destructive forms of quarrying", as well as major infrastructure projects.

Critics have condemned Egypt's rights record under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 before becoming head of state the following year.

It is alleged the country holds some 60,000 political prisoners, many on charges of "spreading false news".

Despite the criticism, Egyptian authorities have pushed for the big-polluting industrialised countries to commit to helping developing African nations to tackle the impacts of climate change.