GENEVA (18 November 2022) – Climate activists and civil society have been subjected to intimidation, harassment and surveillance during the COP27 climate summit in Sharm-el-Sheikh, UN experts* said today, urging Egyptian authorities to ensure their safety and full participation.
“We are deeply concerned by reported acts of harassment and intimidation by Egyptian officials, infringing the rights of Egyptian and non-Egyptian human rights and environmental defenders at COP27, including their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, and effective participation,” the experts said.
“Egypt must end all acts of harassment and intimidation and ensure the safety and full participation of human rights defenders and civil society at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP27) and beyond.”
The experts issued a press release last month, raising concerns in the lead-up to COP27 and calling for full and safe participation of civil society actors and human rights defenders without reprisals.
However, the experts received multiple reports and evidence of civil society actors, including indigenous peoples, being stopped and interrogated by Egyptian security officers, and local security and support staff repeatedly monitoring and photographing civil society actors inside the COP27 venue. A human rights defender scheduled to attend COP27 was also denied entry to the country, the experts said.
“We are concerned that these actions by Egyptian authorities have a chilling effect, impacting wide segments of civil society participating in COP27 as many groups have expressed concern about the need to self-censor to ensure their safety and security,” they said.
The experts received reports of activists being subject to intrusive questioning at the airport when entering Egypt, raising concerns that information collected on the activities of civil society organisations during COP27 could be misused.
They also expressed concern that once the spotlight shifts from Egypt at the conclusion of COP27, Egyptian human rights defenders could be targeted and risk reprisals for their engagement during the Conference.
“We call on Egypt to immediately end harassment and intimidation, to ensure the rights to participation, freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly at COP27, and abstain from reprisals against civil society, human rights defenders and indigenous peoples representatives who attended COP27,” the experts said.
The COP27 climate summit took place in Sharm-el Sheikh from 6-18 November.
The experts are in dialogue with the Government of Egypt and the UNFCCC Secretariat on this issue.