Christoph Strässer, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (19 May 2014) on the detention of journalists in Egypt:
I am deeply concerned about the health of detained Egyptian journalist Abdullah Elshamy, who has been on hunger strike for four months and who was placed in solitary confinement on 12 May 2014. Mr Elshamy has been in custody since August 2013 and to date no charges have been brought against him. At the same time numerous other journalists are being detained in Egypt or are being taken to court for their reporting activities.
I call on the Egyptian Government to respect the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution. The Egyptian authorities must also ensure that imprisonment, prison conditions and trial procedure consistently adhere to the human rights standards which Egypt has pledged to the international community to uphold.
This also applies to the upcoming presidential elections on 26 and 27 May. Allowing the media to report freely before, during and after the elections as well as enabling civil society to engage with this process are vital elements of this.
Every Egyptian Government has a duty towards its citizens to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to guarantee the rule of law.
Numerous journalists from the news agency Al Jazeera have been in detention since 2013. Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy have been in custody since December 2013, accused of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Their trial has recently been rescheduled for the eighth time. Abdullah Elshamy was detained in August 2013. He was arrested reporting on the violent clearance of an MB protest camp. To date no charges have been brought against him. According to reports from his family he has been on hunger strike for four months, as a result of which he is now said to have been placed in solitary confinement.