UN urges Egypt to remove jailed activists from ‘terrorist’ list

UN urges Egypt to remove jailed activists from ‘terrorist’ list
Ramy Shaath and Zyad El-Elaimy were arrested in June 2019 and added to an Egyptian terrorism list in April 2020 “without evidence”.
2 min read
12 February, 2021
The two activists have been in prison since June 2019 [Getty]

A United Nations panel of human rights experts called on Egyptian authorities on Thursday to remove two activists from a “terror” list and end the “systemic misuse of counter-terrorism powers”.

The Special Rapporteurs, who are part of a monitoring body known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, have appealed against the decision to place activists Ramy Shaath and Zyad El-Elaimy on the Egyptian government's terrorism list.

The two activists were arrested in June 2019 and added to the list in April 2020 “without evidence” and in their absence, according to the rapporteurs, who include members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which over the past five years has found Egypt to be in violation of its international human rights obligations.

“We are concerned that this indicates a systemic problem with human rights protections in Egypt, as well as a systemic problem in the abuse and misuse of counter-terrorism laws and practices,” the rapporteurs said.

Ramy Shaath, a Palestinian-Egyptian activist and the coordinator in Egypt of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against Israel is the son of Nabil Shaath, a close advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Ziad El-Elaimy is a human rights lawyer, former MP and one of the leaders of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

He was arrested after giving a TV interview to BBC Arabic in which he accused the government of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of politically motivated detentions, enforced disappearances and torture.

The independent human rights rapporteurs, who work on a voluntary basis and don't receive a UN salary, appealed for authorities in Egypt to remove the activists from the “terrorist” list.

The matter was heard on appeal in an Egyptian court on Tuesday and is scheduled to be decided on 10 March 2021.

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“We are deeply disturbed about counter-terrorism law, its definitions, misuse and the practice by the Egyptian authorities, and in particular the misuse of listing procedures at national level, to attack individuals engaged in human rights work,” a statement from the rapporteurs said.

“The continued misuse of counter-terrorism powers is not consistent with [Egypt's] international law obligations and undermines broader international efforts to prevent terrorism by misusing such powers domestically.”

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