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October 04, 2022

Egypt: stop weaponising travel bans

For years, the Egyptian government has been weaponising travel bans in order to target and silence human rights defenders.

These bans are never formally announced, and there are no straightforward legal procedures visible for those subjected to them. Often, citizens only become aware that travel restrictions have been imposed on them upon arriving at the airport.

Human Rights Watch has documented these bans, which are placed upon NGO workers, participants of political parties and any key members of civil society. According to the HRW report, groups of NGO workers leaving for training conferences in Europe had their passports confiscated and devices searched with no immediate explanation given.

Egypt has no laws specifically regulating travel bans, and the recent restrictions appear to be in violation of Article 62 and Article 54 of the Egyptian constitution.

Given the legal vacuum in which bans exist and the seemingly arbitrary nature by which they are imposed, some organisations are now calling for them to be recognised as a form of state hostage-taking. 

As the human rights research and advocacy organisation FairSquare noted, the social and psychological effects on those targeted are immense, with one victim describing the ban as an "open-ended nightmare."

The indefinite travel bans have separated families and deprived their victims of employment opportunities. 

Holding the Egyptian government accountable and amplifying international criticism on this issue is vital for upholding human rights within Egypt.

Although Egypt will be hosting COP-27 this coming November, its grip on civil society and dissidents has only tightened. Yet human rights violations in Egypt are being ignored on the international stage.

You can support the efforts of Egyptians to pressure their government to uphold international human rights standards by spreading the research of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

You may also sign this petition launched by FairPlanet calling on the Egyptian government to stop weaponising travel bans.

Image by Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa.

Call to Action
Egypt: stop weaponising travel bans