Amnesty chief says UN complicit in Egypt’s ‘greenwashing’

By Isaac J. Martin

Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, Nov 9 (EFE).- Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in an interview with EFE that the United Nations and Member States are “accomplices” from the “greenwashing” of Egypt by giving it the chance to celebrate this year’s COP27 climate summit.

“Unfortunately (the summits) are becoming an exercise in ‘greenwashing’ for many countries, they are using their leadership on climate issues to not address human rights violations and climate justice,” she said, adding that “the UN and the member states are complicit in this exercise, because they allow those countries the possibility of hosting” the climate summits.

Callamard, in Sharm el Sheikh with her organization’s delegation saying she felt “the need” to interact with all possible members of civil society, referred to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, who next year will host COP28 despite its numerous human rights abuse reports.

She said climate activists can do “very little work” in Egypt, and what little they do is completely limited, since “they cannot work with communities to investigate the impact of pollution, nor can they criticize the mega-projects carried out by the military,” as is the case in the new administrative city on the outskirts of Cairo.

Egypt’s dismal human rights record has not prevented the country from holding COP27 in the southern city of the Sinai Peninsula, although the summit has been marred by the start of a water strike, coupled with the hunger strike by Egyptian-British pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdelfatah, in prison since 2019.

“We want to make the most of being here to raise the human rights situation in Egypt and demand that Alaa Abdelfatah be released and reunited with his family,” said the former special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions of the UNHRC.

The activist said Alaa “could die during the first week” of the summit in Egypt, a death that could be “prevented” but, if it happens, “COP27 would be associated forever with his murder, it would be an arbitrary murder.”

Alaa Abdelfatah is the most iconic and influential human rights defender in Egypt, which has led him to spend the most time in prison since Egyptian President Abdelfatah al-Sisi came to power in 2013 following a coup.

Despite Callamard and Amnesty International being tasked with dealing with all possible authorities, including the Egyptians, about the “extremely serious” human rights situation in the country, the NGO’s calls to meet have not been heeded.

“We have asked to meet with Egyptian authorities during the last few weeks and so far we have not been granted, although we continue to wait for these two weeks” during the summit, he said.


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