Ahead of COP27, Open Civic Space and Release Everyone Arbitrarily Detained in Egypt

In the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27) taking place in Egypt’s resort town of Sharm El Sheikh from 7 to18 November 2022, the undersigned organizations, groups, and individuals note with great concern the human rights situation in Egypt and in particular the government’s restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, which risk to undermine a successful, inclusive, and participatory climate summit.

Advancing climate justice demands an inclusive, holistic approach to environmental policy that embeds human rights and tackles systemic problems, including historically rooted social injustices, ecological destruction, abuses by businesses, corruption and impunity, and social and economic inequality. The strongest voices across the world pushing back against these systemic problems, and in favor of more meaningful and ambitious climate action, have come from civil society.

We voice our support to the call made by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: that the work of civil society be recognized, publicly and at the highest levels, as essential to the advancement of climate action and just transition. Moreover, we stress the importance of the right to freedom of expression and independent reporting to foster efforts to address the climate crisis.

We emphasize that effective climate action is not possible without open civic space. As host of COP27, Egypt risks compromising the success of the summit if it does not urgently address ongoing arbitrary restrictions on civil society.

We call on Egypt to ensure that civil society organizations, activists, and communities can meaningfully participate in all discussions and activities on climate and just-transition policy development and implementation at all levels of decision-making without fear of reprisals. Authorities must put in place transparent and inclusive processes to ensure that everyone, including women, Indigenous peoples and local communities, workers, youth, children, persons with disabilities, and other groups facing marginalization or discrimination, is provided with equal opportunities to effectively participate in climate decision-making.

We also call on Egypt to end the prosecutions of civil society activists and organizations and guarantee space for civil society—including human rights defenders—to work without fear of intimidation, harassment, arrest, detention, or any other form of reprisal, including by releasing of unjustly jailed human rights defenders, lifting arbitrarily travel bans and asset freezes and closing all politically-motivated cases against activists targeted for their human rights work.

Access to information is central to effective participation. To this end, we call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately end the arbitrarily blocking of websites and ensure access inside the country to the hundreds of independent media, human rights organizations, and other blocked websites. We also call for the immediate release of all journalists who have been imprisoned solely for doing their job, and an end to restrictions on media and digital spheres.

We recognize that a select number of journalists, human rights defenders, and other individuals who had been arbitrarily detained were conditionally released in recent months. We urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those held simply for peacefully exercising their human rights, implementing criteria set by local NGOs for these releases: fairness, transparency, inclusiveness, and urgency.

Preparations for COP27 are taking place against the backdrop of an ongoing and deep-rooted human rights crisis in Egypt. The Egyptian authorities have for years employed draconian laws, including laws on counter terrorism, cyber-crimes, and civil society, to stifle all forms of peaceful dissent and shut down civic space. We note that, under the current government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, thousands continue to be arbitrarily detained without a legal basis, following grossly unfair trials, or solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. Thousands are held in prolonged per-trial detention on the basis of spurious terrorism and national security accusations. Among those arbitrarily detained are dozens of journalists targeted for their media work, social media users punished for sharing critical online content, women convicted on morality-related charges for making Tik Tok videos, and members of religious minorities accused of blasphemy.

Prisoners are held in detention conditions that violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, and since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power hundreds have died in custody amid reports of denial of healthcare and other abuse. Egypt remains one of the world’s top executioners, executing 107 in 2020 to 83 in 2021, with at least 356 people sentenced to death in 2021, many following grossly unfair trials including by emergency courts. The crisis of impunity has emboldened Egyptian security forces to carry out extra-judicial executions and other unlawful killing, enforced disappearances and torture with no fear of consequences.

The Egyptian authorities must take meaningful steps to address the human rights crisis, including by lifting restrictions of civic space and ending their crackdown on peaceful dissent.

Led by

  1. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
  2. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  3. Committee for Justice (CFJ)
  4. Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR)
  5. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
  6. EgyptWide for Human Rights
  7. El Nadeem Center Against Violence and Torture
  8. Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE)
  9. Sinai Foundation for Human Rights
  10. The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)
  11. The Freedom Initiative (FI)
  12. Egyptian Human Rights Forum


  1. 350 Aotearoa
  2. AAA Accountancy UK
  3. AbibiNsroma Foundation ANF
  4. Access Now
  5. Aid/Watch
  6. Amnesty International
  7. Arab Network for Knowledge about Human rights
  8. Arayara.org
  9. Asia Pacific Network of Environment Defenders
  11. Association des jeunes pour le développement du Ouaddai
  12. Avli Initiative
  13. BankTrack
  15. CAN Latin America
  16. CAN Tanzania
  17. CAN-Japan
  18. Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines Inc.
  19. Center for International Environmental Law
  20. Centre for Citizens Conserving Environment & Management (CECIC)
  21. Climate & Sustainability
  22. Climate Justice Alliance
  23. CNCD-11.11.11
  24. Coal Action Network Aotearoa
  25. Coalition Marocaine pour la Justice Climatique (CMJC)
  27. Collectif Sénégalais des Africaines pour la Promotion de l’Éducation Relative à l’Environnement (COSAPERE)
  28. Commission on Environment and Climate Justice – International League of Peoples’ Struggle
  29. Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience
  30. Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
  31. DIGNITY – Danish Institute Against Torture
  32. Eastbourne Solidarity
  33. EcoEquity
  34. Ecologistas en Acción
  35. Egyptian Americans For Justice
  36. Emonyo Yefwe International
  37. Environmental conflict mediation and Women Development
  38. Environmental Justice Foundation
  39. Equidad de Genero: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia
  40. EuroMed Rights
  41. Fastenaktion
  42. Finnish Development NGOs – Fingo
  43. FOKUS – Forum for Women and Development
  45. Forum des Jeunes
  46. Franciscan Action Network
  47. Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  48. Friends of the Earth Germany/ BUND
  49. Friends of the Earth Scotland
  50. G.R.A.M.E.D
  51. GAIA – Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
  52. Gastivists Collective
  53. GenderCC-Women for Climate Justice e.V.
  54. Global Justice Now
  55. Heinrich Boell Foundation
  56. Human Rights Without Frontiers
  57. HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement
  58. ILPS Commission 10
  59. Indigenous Peoples’ Organisation-Australia
  60. International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)
  61. International Peace Bureau
  62. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  63. Kabataan para sa Tribung Pilipino (Katribu Youth)
  64. Karamoja Go Green
  65. Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY)
  66. Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation
  67. Ligue pour la solidarité congolaise
  68. Liverpool City Region Climate Justice Coalition
  69. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  70. Merdeka West Papua Support Network
  71. Migrante International
  72. Minority Rights Group International
  73. Mom Loves Taiwan Association
  74. NAJU (Youth Association for the Protection of Nature)
  75. NDEO
  77. North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS)
  78. Observatório do Clima
  79. Observatory for the Protection of the Environment and Historical Monument
  80. Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania
  81. Protection International
  82. Reacción Climática
  83. Saharawi Active Youth
  84. Sankalpa Darchula Nepal, South Asia
  85. SERUNI
  86. Sisters of Charity Federation
  87. Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill
  88. Somali Youth Development Foundation (SYDF)
  89. Sukaar Welfare Organization
  90. The Green Youth Movement (DGUB) (Denmark)
  91. The Resilient40
  92. The SANE Collective
  93. Tipping Point UK
  94. Transnational Institute
  95. Tulele Peisa Inc
  96. UNISC International
  97. US Committe to End Political Repression in Egypt
  98. Vikas Adhyayan Kendra
  99. War on Want
  100. Water Justice and Gender
  101. Women Engage for a Common Future
  102. World Friends for Africa Burkina Faso/ Membership Organiser at CAN West and Central Africa
  103. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  104. Yorkshire and the Humber Climate Justice Coalition
  105. Youth for Development and Human Rights Advancement


  1. Ahti Tolvanen
  3. Alia Hammad
  4. Andreas Moesch
  5. Aurelie Buytaert
  6. Basila Maya
  7. Bed Awa-ao
  8. Bernard Barré
  9. Beverley Binfield
  10. Beverly L. Longid
  11. Billon
  12. Bjørn Olav Utvik
  13. Carmen fulco
  14. Céline Lebrun Shaath
  15. Cesar Bollecer Jr
  16. Chanchana
  17. Chris Preston
  18. Chris Vrettos
  19. Christiane Hildebrandt
  20. Christina Maria Cecilia M. Sayson
  21. Christine-Anne
  22. corinna baudisch
  23. Daniel Leclerc
  24. David Jesero
  25. David Robertson
  26. Dayoon Kim
  27. Dr Oye Ideki
  28. Elle Glenny
  29. Elondra Eichenberger
  30. Francesca Biancani
  31. Francesco Correale
  32. G. Andrea Teti
  33. Gabriele Köhler
  34. Geoffrey Mock
  35. Gine Zwart
  36. Hendrik Voss
  37. Isabelle Sain
  38. Ivan Hortal Sánchez
  39. Jeremy Adeba
  40. John Chalcraft
  41. Jorge Martínez
  42. Josh Hughes
  43. Julia Horn
  44. Julian Hirschmann
  45. Kerstin Doerenbruch
  46. Komla Bassah
  47. Lenka Hélová
  48. Lin Patterson
  49. Lorena Cotza
  50. Lydia Darby
  51. Mamadou SYLLA
  52. Mamta Lukram
  53. Manuel Leick-Jonard
  54. Mariam TOURE KEITA
  55. Marie Lecocq
  56. Mario Caffera
  57. Mark Doran
  58. martin mantxo
  59. Martin Vilela
  60. Mehdy BELABBAS
  61. Melony
  62. Mia Bradić
  63. Michael Barkley
  64. Michael Ineichen
  65. Michael Taylor
  66. Michel Vanhoorne
  67. Mounir Satouri
  68. Narasimha Reddy Donthi
  69. Natalie Rivas
  70. Natasha
  71. Ndivile Mokoena
  72. nelia lauper
  73. Rachel Allen
  74. Ramy Shaath
  75. Rosa van Driel
  76. Roshan Lal
  77. Salma El Hosseiny
  78. sarah sakouti
  79. Shaimaa Elbanna
  80. Shaon Zeiler
  81. Shima
  82. Simone Lennerz
  83. Sofie Bech Larsen
  84. Sophie Maziane
  85. Stephen Crozier
  86. Steve Ongerth
  87. Ted Swedenburg
  88. Veena Balakrishnan
  89. Yazan Badran
  90. Yohei Takata
  91. Christa Salamandra
  92. Esha Shah
  93. Hugo Alan
  94. John Schaefer
  95. Ron Smith
  96. Sandra Carter
  97. 6 publicly anonymous