Greenpeace accused of downplaying COP27 host Egypt's human rights abuses

Greenpeace accused of downplaying COP27 host Egypt's human rights abuses
2 min read
30 October, 2022
Rights groups have accused environmental activist group Greenpeace of minimising concerns around Egypt's poor human rights record out of fear their access to COP27 might be curtailed.
Greenpeace has been accused of downplaying Egypt's human rights abuses [Getty]

Environmental activist group Greenpeace has been accused by human rights defenders of downplaying Egypt’s abysmal human rights record ahead of the COP27 UN climate summit, according to The Guardian. 

The international climate meet will be held in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from next week. 

Human rights advocates who spoke to the British daily warned environmentalists not to minimise concerns around Egypt’s human rights record out of fears that they may not be given access to the climate summit.

Instead, the activists - some of whom spoke anonymously partly because of fears for their safety - argued that real action on the climate can only be taken if activists, journalists, scientists and other advocates are free to put pressure on their governments. 

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Egypt under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has repeatedly targeted and jailed dissidents, journalists and activists, and holds around 60,000 political prisoners according to The Guardian

In one case, activists said that a petition urging the government to free all political prisoners proposed by human rights defenders part of the COP27 Coalition was opposed by Greenpeace and other Egyptian climate organisations.

The climate activists, however, fear their support could lead to fear harsh repercussions from the state. 

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Mike Townsley, the head of communications at Greenpeace, said that the climate group is "concerned about the dire situation of human rights in Egypt", according to The Guardian.

However, Greenpeace are wary about the dangers their staff in Egypt face and must consider their safety, Townsley said, and must "avoid increasing the risks faced by the growing environmental movement in Egypt".

Greenpeace has also not signed a petition calling for Cairo to open civil space and release political prisoners. The petition has thousands of signatories including Greta Thunberg and Amnesty International, but has also not been signed by major international groups such as the World Wildlife Fund and Oxfam.