The U.N. human rights office has condemned the most recent crackdown against activists, bloggers and journalists in Egypt as a violation of their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
In recent weeks, the U.N. human rights office has reported that prominent bloggers, activists and journalists have been arbitrarily arrested and subjected to interrogation while in detention on spurious charges of peddling fake news.
In one instance, it notes an activist, Amal Fathy, was picked up and charged with using the internet and social media to spread false news to push forward a supposed terrorist agenda.
Human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says it is not possible to know how many people have been detained for exercising their rights of freedom of expression. She says their conditions of confinement are of concern as their rights to due process are not being respected.
“In many cases, these people are detained without an arrest warrant. In some cases, they are not aware of why they have been detained. In many cases, their pre-trial detention continues to be renewed again and again,” said Shamdasani. “In some of the cases that I mentioned, three individuals have been detained since March, since the end of February, early March and their detention, pre-trial detention keeps getting renewed for 15-day periods successively.”
Shamdasani says some of the charges carry long prison terms.
The U.N. human rights office is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently being held by the Egyptian authorities. Officials are urging the government to respect its obligations under international human rights law.
According to the Reuters news agency, the Egyptian state news agency MENA reports that President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has pardoned 712 prisoners who were jailed for anti-government protests. The president was re-elected for a second term in March and sworn in recently.