U.N. expresses ‘serious concerns’ overdue process in Egypt, following mass-arrests

epa07829353 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Chilean Michelle Bachelet delivers her statement during the opening of the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations (UNOG) in Geneva, Switzerland, 09 September 2019. EPA-EFE/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

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The UN human rights chief has expressed “serious concerns” over reports of a lack of due process, after authorities in Egypt made widespread arrests during protests last week.

In a statement issued on Friday, Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, urged Egyptian authorities to respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, “in full compliance with international norms and standards.”

According to Egyptian civil society organizations, more than 2,000 people – including lawyers, human rights defenders, political activists, university professors and journalists – were detained before, during and after street protests that took place in a number of Egyptian cities on 20-21 September.

“The UN Human Rights Office has received information that a number of those detained were subsequently released”, said the statement from OHCHR.

“Reports also suggest some of those detained were denied legal representation when appearing before the Public Prosecutor, and some have allegedly been charged with serious offences.”

“I remind the Egyptian government that under international law people have a right to protest peacefully,” said Ms. Bachelet. “They also have a right to express their opinions, including on social media. They should never be detained, let alone charged with serious offences, simply for exercising those rights.”

“I urge the authorities to radically change their approach to any future protests, including those that may take place today,” she added.

News reports said that some protesters had once again taken to the streets in several cities across Egypt on Friday afternoon, calling for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to step down with the indication of more protests planned for Saturday.

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