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COP27 delegates fighting for climate justice must also speak out on Egypt’s vicious assault on human rights

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard will attend the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh between 6-18 November 2022 and is available for interviews about the need to centre climate decisions in human rights and Egypt’s ongoing human rights crisis.

In addition to urging meaningful, coordinated, global action addressing the climate crisis, Amnesty International is calling on world leaders to publicly demonstrate their solidarity with Egypt’s embattled civil society and put pressure on Egyptian authorities to end their years-long assault on human rights. 

No state can claim to be a credible player in addressing the climate crisis while continuing to tighten its chokehold on civil society.

Agnès Callamard, Secretary General, Amnesty International

Ahead of her visit, Agnès Callamard said:

“It is quite simple: we no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to the global climate crisis. The window to keep average global temperatures increase within 1.5°C is rapidly closing and, as it does, the world is faced with floods, droughts, and fires – leading to forced migration and famine as well as further conflict and death. COP27 is a key opportunity to reverse this course and must not be wasted in a theatre of empty promises and greenwashing.

“While action on climate change will require significant planning and coordination, the negotiations must not get bogged down in technocratic details and lose sight of the human beings on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

“Climate change is a human rights crisis and fulfilling all human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, is key to securing a rapid and just transition to zero-carbon economies and resilient societies.

“No state can claim to be a credible player in addressing the climate crisis while continuing to tighten its chokehold on civil society. The Egyptian authorities have committed a litany of crimes under international law, including torture, unlawful killings and enforced disappearances. Nearly all independent and critical voices have been silenced in the country.”

During her time in Egypt, Agnès Callamard will call on COP27 delegates to:

  • Put human rights, including labour rights and the rights of Indigenous peoples, at the centre of all COP27 negotiations and decisions.
  • Protect 1.5 by reviewing and updating 2030 emissions targets to ensure they are fully aligned with the 1.5°C imperative.
  • Commit to a rapid and equitable fossil fuel phase out rather than relying on carbon markets and carbon removal mechanisms.
  • Create a clear plan for wealthy states to increase contributions to financing climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Establish a financial facility to provide timely support and remedy to people and communities whose human rights have been violated as the result of loss and damage caused by the climate crisis.
  • Stand in solidarity with Egyptian human rights organizations and reiterate their COP27 Petition calls to release all those arbitrarily detained and open civic space in Egypt.

Amnesty International will be closely watching the Egyptian authorities’ policing of protests as well as their treatment of, and any reprisals against, environmental activists and human rights defenders during and after COP27.The organization has sought meetings with the Egyptian authorities and requested access to prisons where thousands are being held for politically motivated reasons. Amnesty International is urging state delegates to raise human rights concerns with the Egyptian authorities in line with the demands of independent Egyptian human rights groups in this petition

Background

COP27 is taking place amid concerns over the Egyptian authorities and UNFCCC’ failure to accredit independent Egyptian human rights groups for COP27. Additional barriers for the meaningful participation of a wide range of stakeholders include mandatory registration processes for access to the Green Zone, unaffordable hotel prices and increased surveillance and security checks. Authorities have ordered workers without security clearance to leave the city or observe severe restrictions on movement. The recent arrests of at least 118 individuals as of 31 October in Cairo alone in connection to calls for protests during COP27 and the proliferation of random police stops and illegal phone searches for critical content serve as a grim reminder of the pervasive repression of civil society in Egypt.