UN: UN human rights experts welcome release of Egyptian journalist

New York, US (PANA) - UN human rights experts have welcomed the release of Egyptian journalist Hossam Bahgat, but expressed grave concern over the very difficult environment for journalists and human rights defenders in Egypt that deters reporting and intimidates writers and activists of all kinds.

In a joint statement, obtained by PANA in New York Wednesday, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, said: "Even after his release, his detention sends a signal of
disrespect for the very principles of freedom of expression that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi only days ago claimed his government upheld."

The statement was also endorsed by the Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on
Arbitrary Detention, Seong-Phil Hong; the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom
of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai; the UN Special Rapporteur on torture
and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Mendez, and the
UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Monica Pinto.

The statement said Mr. Bahgat was summoned to a military intelligence building in Cairo,
the Egyptian capital, on Sunday morning, and then interrogated without legal counsel for more than eight hours, on the subject of his writing, and in particular about an investigative report he wrote for an independent on-line news site called Mada Masr back in October.

He is also a member of UNDP's Global Civil Society Advisory Council and the founder of the group Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

The UN rights experts said in their statement that dozens of reporters are being held by Egyptian authorities today, and this adds to the already very difficult environment in which journalists and human rights defenders operate in Egypt.

Earlier in the week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also underscored the importance of safeguarding freedom of speech and association in Egypt, saying pluralism and a vibrant civil society are key for achieving long-term stability in the country, including the guarantee that all peaceful voices are heard and represented.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 12Nov2015

11 november 2015 23:39:37

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