Egypt justifies barring HRW entry, US says 'disappointed'

Ahram Online, Tuesday 12 Aug 2014

Egyptian authorities say they barred HRW's entry because it failed to comply with regulations

Kenneth Roth
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. (Reuters)

The Egyptian government says it barred entry of Human Rights Watch members because the organisation did not follow proper regulations and perceived itself as an 'entity above the law'.

Egyptian authorities had barred on Monday the executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth and Middle East and North Africa director, Sarah Leah Whitson from entering Egypt at the Cairo International Airport on account of not having a "legal basis' for entry.

The New York based human rights watchdog organization was planning to hold a press conference in Cairo to publish its final report about the dispersal of sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Al-Nahda squares last August, which it described as ‘an action that amounts to crimes against humanity’.

The statement, released on the ministry's official Facebook account, said HRW had previously withdrawn their request to obtain a work license in Egypt as a foreign NGO, which is required by the Egyptian law.

The statement also recounted that HRW requested to arrange a meeting with Egyptian officials in August regarding the release of their report on the dispersal.

The Egyptian officials postponed the meeting to September, saying that they are still keen to cooperate with HRW but to also wanted to 'maintain the state’s sovereign rights', the statement added.

Egyptian officials, according to the statement, emphasised to HRW the necessity of obtaining an entry visa from Egyptian consulates abroad and that they can not enter the country using a tourism via, as it is contradictory to the reasons, already stated by HRW, for their visit.

"This is consistent with the approach pursued by the organization, as it perceives itself as an entity above the law and not subject to its provisions," the interior ministry's statement read.

Meanwhile, The US State Department slammed the decision of the Egyptian authorities, describing the actions as 'disappointing'.

"It is critical for civil society organizations, both Egyptian and international, to be able to work freely in Egypt. We are disappointed that these individuals were not allowed to do so" said Marie Herf, the deputy spokesperson of the State Department in the daily press briefing in Washington on Monday. 

"As we have repeatedly said, we continue to have serious concerns regarding the events of last August and encourage the Egyptian government to conduct transparent investigations." Herf added.

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