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Briefing notes on Egypt and South Sudan

Location: Geneva
Date: 11 November 2011

(1) Egypt

We have been closely following events in Egypt since the ousting of former President Mubarak and are concerned about what appears to be a diminishing public space for freedom of expression and association. The military trial and jailing of blogger and activist Alaa Abdel-Fatah, after his criticism of security forces’ handling of protests last month, is one such example of an egregious breach of the right to freedom of expression.

Along similar lines, the restrictive NGO law 84 of 2002 has reportedly been used to investigate human rights groups and their funding sources.
The interim authorities in Egypt must guarantee full respect for the freedom of expression, association and assembly, which are particularly crucial to ensure the free and fair conduct of the upcoming elections.

Following our mission to Egypt in April, we called for a repeal of the State of Emergency and the definite cessation of military trials of civilians. It is disappointing to note that neither of these calls have been heeded and we urge the authorities to do so without further delay.

Civil society organisations and human rights activists, whose courage and non-violent protest brought about the change of regime in Egypt, must be guaranteed space for open debate, even if it means that the interim authorities are harshly criticised in public fora. To this end, we call for the release of Alaa Abdel-Fateh and all others who have been imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights to free speech and association.

(2) South Sudan

We condemn yesterday's bombing of Yida, a small refugee camp in South Sudan just across the border from Southern Kordofan. We need more information about the incident, but the aerial bombing of a camp containing civilians is an extremely serious matter and could amount to an international crime.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org).

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