| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Egypt withholding identity papers from dissidents abroad- rights group

In a crackdown on opposition that stretches outside of Egypt’s borders, Egyptian authorities have routinely refused to grant or renew identity documents to dissidents, journalists, and activists overseas.

The US organization claimed to have spoken with 26 Egyptians last year who were residents of places like Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, and Qatar. It also claimed to have examined records for nine of them.

Egypt’s state press centre and foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“By arbitrarily depriving its citizens abroad from obtaining valid passports and other identity documents, the Egyptian authorities are violating both the constitution and international human rights law,” HRW said.

In Turkey, home to a large number of Egyptian opposition figures, Egypt’s consulate requires applicants for almost all services to fill out unofficial forms with private details including the reasons they left Egypt and links to social media accounts, HRW said.


Those interviewed said it was “nearly impossible” to challenge refusals to provide documents, it added.

Egyptian authorities have conducted a far-reaching crackdown on political dissent under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who came to power after leading the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi in 2013.

Rights groups say tens of thousands, including Islamists and liberals, have been arrested and that the state has also targeted dissidents who moved abroad and in some cases their relatives still in Egypt.

Sisi and his supporters say the crackdown was needed to stabilise Egypt, denying that charges against dissidents are politically motivated and asserting that the judiciary acts independently.

Earlier this month, a state security court handed lengthy prison sentences to more than 20 people including rights defenders on terrorism-related charges, in a mass trial denounced by activists as unjust.

U.N. Human Rights Chief Volker Turk said last week that the sentences had been issued “in proceedings on questionable terrorism-related charges which also raised fair trial concerns”.

  • Reuters