Egypt: Amnesty International opposes deportation of Sudanese nationals and seeks inquiry into killings of protesters

Amnesty International has urged thousands of its members around the world to appeal to the Egyptian government against the deportation of more than 650 Sudanese nationals, some of whom are reported to be asylum-seekers and possible refugees recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) who were not carrying their identification documents at the time of their arrest.

Amnesty is calling on the Egyptian authorities to halt all such deportations immediately and to ensure that no individual at risk of serious human rights abuses is deported to Sudan, in accordance with Egypt's obligations under international human rights law, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the customary international norm of non-refoulement.

The international human rights group is also calling for an immediate and thorough independent investigation into the killing of at least 27 Sudanese protesters by Egyptian police, as well as the injury of dozens more during a peaceful protest in Cairo on 30 December.

Such an investigation should be conducted with the participation of UN human right experts and members of independent Egyptian human rights organisations, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

Amnesty International said the Egyptian authorities should release all Sudanese nationals detained during or following the protests in Cairo unless they are to be charged with a recognisable criminal offence. The Egyptian government should also ensure that all those held have full access to lawyers and their families and receive adequate medical treatment, if needed.

Amnesty International calls on the Egyptian authorities to give unhindered access and adequate time for UNHCR to assess the need of those individuals for international protection. In addition, any deportation of individuals found not to be in need of international protection must be reached in accordance with law; a collective expulsion would violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Background

On 29 September 2005, several hundred Sudanese refugees started a protest in a park opposite the Mustafa Mahmoud Mosque, in the Mohandissen area of Cairo, near the offices of UNHCR. The protestors, who included asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants, were demanding improvements in their living conditions, protection from return to Sudan, and resettlement in a European or North American country, among other demands.

By the end of December, the number of demonstrators had exceeded 2,500 and the Egyptian authorities indicated that they intended to relocate the refugees to the outskirts of Cairo. On the evening of 29 December, police forces surrounded the area while last minute negotiations reportedly took place, involving leaders of the demonstration and officials from the Ministry of Interior. At around 3.30 am on 30 December, the police forces started using water cannons to disperse the demonstration and subsequently and subjected the protestors to indiscriminate beatings. The police action left at least 27 Sudanese dead, including Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights, and many others injured.

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