As Egypt gets ready to host world leaders for the carefully watched COP27 climate conference, Berlin accused Egypt on Sunday of failing to uphold its duties in the area of human rights.
Luise Amtsberg, the human rights commissioner for the German government, pleaded with the summit’s host nation Egypt to free the imprisoned dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is now on a hunger strike, and his lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer.
“The fact that people who want to express their opinions freely and stand up for that right are punished with long prison sentences — sometimes under inhumane conditions — is unacceptable,” Amtsberg said in a statement.
“Assuming global responsibility also means, above all, assuming responsibility for the protection of human rights,” Amtsberg said.
“However, the human rights situation in Egypt does not do justice to this.”
Releasing Abdel Fattah and other political prisoners would send “an important signal” that Egypt takes its human rights responsibilities seriously, she added.
Cairo has faced frequent criticism over its human rights record since it was announced as COP27 host last year, a move rights groups said “rewards the repressive rule” of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Cairo denies the allegations made by rights organisations that there are 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt’s prisons, many of whom are held in appalling conditions and crammed into small spaces.
Last week, 15 Nobel laureates joined calls for Abdel Fattah, a key participant in the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran leader Hosni Mubarak, to be released from Egypt.
The British-Egyptian philosopher and writer is currently serving a five-year sentence for “broadcasting fake news” after spending the most of the previous ten years in prison.
His family has warned that he is currently on a hunger strike and that if he is not freed before the climate conference, he will likely pass away in custody because he will stop drinking fluids on Sunday, the first day of COP27.
The talks will be attended by about 200 nations.