Press Release

June 21, 1997

Human Rights Watch representative denied entry into Egypt

In an unjustified action, Cairo International Airport authorities denied entry into Egypt late Friday night to Gamal Abu Ali, a Jordanian-Canadian researcher from Human Rights Watch/Middle East. Ali was held at the airport until Saturday morning, when he was deported on a flight to Paris.

Ali arrived at the airport Friday night from Paris to join his colleague, Joe Stork, Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch/Middle East. During their visit to Cairo the two representatives had planned to discuss human rights conditions in Egypt with a number of human rights activists and Egyptian officials, including the head of the Human Rights Department at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ali was apparently denied entry into Egypt after his Jordanian passport revealed his Palestinian origin. The airport authorities searched Ali's bags and found documents on human rights and a special report on Egypt.

This event highlights the discrimination practiced against visitors of Palestinian origin to Egypt. Such discrimination violates the principles of equality and right to freedom of travel that are protected under international human rights covenants.

The Center for Human Rights Legal Aid (CHRLA) calls on the authorities to end the discrimination and restrictions placed on visitors of Palestinian origin. CHRLA also regrets the procedures to which representatives of international human rights organizations are subjected. These practices hinder cooperation and dialogue between the government and human rights organizations working to improve human rights conditions in Egypt.

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