Human Rights First Welcomes Lift in Travel Ban But Concerns Remain for NGOs in Egypt
New York City – Human Rights First welcomes the news that the travel ban has been lifted on American employees of U.S. human rights and democracy organizations in Egypt, who are facing prosecution on criminal charges. However, Human Rights First remains concerned that the prosecution of legitimate non-governmental organizations may still be continuing. Hundreds of Egyptian human rights and democracy activists remain the target of unwarranted criminal investigations creating a chilling effect on the vital work of independent human rights and democracy organizations holding government officials to account and exposing violations. “Even if the American citizens are allowed to leave Egypt, the U.S. government must continue to make clear to the Egyptian government that independent, non-governmental organizations should be able to carry out their essential activities free from harassment, defamation in the state-run media and politically motivated criminal investigations,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “This is especially important as Egypt continues its protracted and challenging transition to democracy. The U.S. government should support Egypt’s peaceful transition towards democracy using all the channels of influence and persuasion that the rich bi-lateral relationship between the two countries affords.” In January, following a trip to Cairo, Human Rights First issued a new report, “Egypt’s Transition to Democracy One Year On: Recommendations for U.S. Policy ,” detailing what actions the United States should take to promote a peaceful democratic transition. The report contains several recommendations for U.S. policy and calls on the U.S. government to negotiate a durable arrangement with the Egyptian authorities that will ensure the long-term stability and integrity of U.S. assistance to independent human rights and democracy organizations in Egypt. For more information about this report or Human Rights First’s work on Egypt, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at [email protected] or 202-370-3323.