GENEVA (27 September 2019) - The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday expressed serious concerns about reports of lack of due process following wide-spread arrests linked to the protests in Egypt, and urged the authorities to respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in full compliance with international norms and standards.
According to Egyptian civil society organizations more than 2,000 people, including lawyers, human rights defenders, political activists, university professors and journalists were detained before, during and after the protests that took place in a number of Egyptian cities on 20-21 September. The UN Human Rights Office has received information that a number of those detained were subsequently released.
Reports also suggest some of those detained were denied legal representation when appearing before the Public Prosecutor, and some have allegedly been charged with serious offences. Such charges are reported to include aiding a terrorist group in achieving its goals; spreading 'false news'; participating in unauthorized protests; and misusing social media.
"I remind the Egyptian government that under international law people have a right to protest peacefully," Bachelet said. "They also have a right to express their opinions, including on social media. They should never be detained, let alone charged with serious offences, simply for exercising those rights."
"I urge the authorities to radically change their approach to any future protests, including those that may take place today," she said. "Any response by the security forces should be in line with international norms and standards regarding the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as fair trial. All those arrested and detained solely for exercising their rights should be released immediately."
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