U.N. experts decry Egypt’s civil society crackdown


Egypt is closing down domestic non-governmental organizations and putting travel bans on their staff in order to obstruct scrutiny of human rights issues, three independent U.N. human rights investigators said on Monday, Reuters reports:

U.N. experts Michel Forst, David Kaye and Maina Kiai accused Egypt’s government of clamping down on NGOs so that human rights violations such as the use of torture did not come to light.

“Egypt is failing to provide a safe and enabling environment for civil society in the country,” the three said in a statement. They specialize in human rights defense, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

The statement cited the Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, which was issued with a closing order on Feb. 17 for carrying out a “medical activity” for which it was not licensed. The center had published reports on torture.

Last Thursday, the head of the U.N. International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder, sent a letter to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, demanding he revoke a ban on recognition of independent trade unions, Reuters adds.

“It is the responsibility of the government to ensure the application of the international labor conventions on freedom of association that it has freely ratified and which must be respected by all state authorities,” Ryder wrote.

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