Human rights criticism of Egypt’s deportation of 25 Eritrean refugees
Cairo- Amid mounting criticism of the human rights file in Egypt after the sentencing of famous activists a few days ago, human rights organizations pointed to another violation, this time related to refugees to Egypt, where the authorities forcibly deported 25 Eritreans, after they sought refuge in Egypt. To escape from compulsory military conscription in their country.
The Refugees Platform in Egypt said that the Egyptian authorities deported them on the evening of December 23 from Cairo International Airport to the city of Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, noting that they are at risk of enforced disappearance, imprisonment, torture and serious ill-treatment that sometimes leads to death.
According to her self-definition, This platform It is “an independent digital platform that aims to serve refugees, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Egypt, of all nationalities, genders, races and ages, and all those interested in their issues from governmental institutions, international and local organizations, community initiatives and individuals.”
The platform indicated that the recently deported Eritreans had been arrested in Egypt at different periods of the current year 2021, due to irregular entry to seek asylum, and had been detained since the time of their arrest without a fair trial, accusations, or giving them the right to defense and legal representation, in unfair circumstances. Very humane and bad.
The platform indicated that among the forcibly deported are 7 children under the age of 18, including a 15-day-old baby, and 3 of them are deported while their mother is still detained.
The Egyptian government is currently detaining more than 200 Eritrean students and asylum seekers (men, women and children) in the detention facilities of the Ministry of the Interior in the governorates of Aswan and the Red Sea. Some of them have been transferred to the Eritrean embassy in Cairo, and they are forced to sign papers and travel documents.
The Refugee Platform in Egypt indicated that the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a statement last November, criticizing the arbitrary detentions and forced deportations carried out by Egypt, as the authorities deported 15 Eritrean asylum seekers, including children and patients, between the months of October 1 and November, and from the time of their forcible deportation, there is no information about them yet.
About 5,000 Eritreans flee their country every month to escape compulsory national service that has no time limits, according to the platform, which makes clear that forcibly returning asylum seekers without allowing them to first apply for international protection and have their cases properly reviewed is a serious violation of international law. Egypt has an international legal responsibility to ensure that no one is forcibly returned to a country where they are at risk of persecution or other serious human rights violations, regardless of how they arrived in a country and whether or not they have identity documents.
The platform concluded its report that the arbitrary detentions and forced deportations take place at the same time that the European Union confirmed the continuation of cooperation and joint agreements with Egypt in the migration file without clear conditions that guarantee the safety, protection and rights of asylum seekers, and it seems that this cooperation and financial support is only in order to prevent Refugees and refugee women have access to Europe via North Africa.
The principle of non-refoulement is binding on all states and is part of customary international law under the 1951 Convention 👇🏼 https://t.co/cuIvI6pwvC
— UNHCR Egypt (@UNHCREgypt) December 26, 2021
International demands to respect the Refugee Convention
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Egypt has published on its Facebook page, a reminder that “the fundamental principle of the 1951 Refugee Convention is non-refoulement, which affirms that a refugee should not be returned to a country where he faces serious threats to his life and freedom.”
She added that among the rights that refugees enjoy under the 1951 Convention: the right to freedom of movement (Article 26), the right to non-refoulement (Article 33), and the right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of the signatory states (Article 31), All countries – including those that have not signed the Convention – are obliged to adhere to the basic standards of protection that are part of general international law, and for example, a refugee must not be returned to territories where his life or freedom is threatened.
In turn, Amnesty International published a report on its website calling for the Egyptian authorities to stop deporting Eritrean refugees, and said in its report that the deported refugees face a real risk of persecution. Since the end of October 2021, the Egyptian authorities have deported at least 15 Eritreans, and the authorities should stop deporting refugees immediately.
And earlier, UN human rights experts – in a statement – expressed deep concern about the Egyptian authorities forcibly returning 7 Eritrean asylum seekers, including 5 children, to their country, despite the risk that they would be subjected to enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment, and in violation of international human rights obligations.
In the statement, the experts said that individuals who fled Eritrea and were subsequently forcibly returned to it are considered “traitors”, and are often detained upon arrival in Eritrea, interrogated, tortured and held in severe punitive conditions, and then disappear.
International law and conventions
Lawyer and lecturer in refugee affairs, Ashraf Milad, told Al Jazeera Net: “Unfortunately, after Egypt conducted a package of measures in favor of refugees over the past years, this behavior comes to directly detract from its balance, and this behavior was repeated during the months of October and November The last two. The reason for the deportation may be purely security, but this is not a justification because the United Nations itself criticized this behavior in an official statement.
Milad added that the deportation of Eritrean refugees in particular is remarkable, as the two deportation of asylum seekers of the same nationality confirms that the matter may be political, and there is a danger to the refugees who have been deported. He definitely puts them at risk during his investigation.
Regarding the cases in which the Egyptian authorities have the right to deport refugees, Milad affirmed that – in accordance with international law (the 1951 Refugee Convention) – Article 33 states that:
(1) No Contracting State may expel or return a refugee in any way whatsoever to the borders of territories in which his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinions.
2- This right may not be invoked by any refugee who has reasonable grounds to consider him a danger to the security of the country in which he resides, in view of the fact that a final judgment has been issued against him for having committed a crime of exceptional gravity, a danger to the society of that country.
This means that any country that has signed and ratified the Refugee Convention is obligated not to forcibly deport any asylum-seeker unless he poses a threat to the host country, and in this case he is deported to any safe third country and not to his home country, as well as if the host country is not a party to 1951 Convention, the state – by custom – is obligated not to extradite.