Sisi speech at Davos ‘hypocritical propaganda’ amid rights abuses

January 22, 2015

Egypt’s President has told the World Economic Forum that he has “hope” in the country’s youth, despite evidence that his military government has imprisoned hundreds of minors since 2013 in a broad crackdown on dissent.

In remarks made minutes ago at the Davos summit, General Abdulrahman al-Sisi is reported to have said “the youth of Egypt are the hope of Egypt.”

A study by legal charity Reprieve last year found that in Cairo alone, hundreds of children have been imprisoned and in some cases tortured, while some have been tried as adults in controversial ‘mass trials.’

One such case is that of Ibrahim Halawa, a teenager from Ireland who has been awaiting trial alongside 493 others since he was arrested at a protest in Cairo, at the age of 17. Mr Halawa, who recently spent his 19th birthday in prison, faces a potential death sentence if convicted.

Maya Foa, head of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “For General Sisi to stand in front of the world’s leaders at Davos and trumpet his commitment to ‘youth’ is sickening, given the scale of abuses his regime has presided over – including farcial ‘mass trials’ and death sentences for protestors. If the Egyptian government really does cherish young people and their rights, it should free Ibrahim Halawa and the many others like him. It is deeply disappointing that Davos has given General Sisi a platform to spout such hypocritical propaganda.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8160

2. Details of Reprieve’s research into juvenile arrests in Egypt can be found here, while background on Ibrahim Halawa’s case can be found here.