Authorities in Egypt have refused to issue and renew essential identity documents needed by those living outside the country, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) Monday. The refusals are allegedly part of attempts to force dissidents to return to Egypt, where they would likely face persecution.Under the government of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, politically motivated migration has increased, and between 9 million and 14 million Egyptian people now live abroad. HRW believe this is caused by Al-Sisi’s zero tolerance policy to dissident, as thousands have left the country to avoid repression. Of those living abroad, many have faced difficulty in their naturalisation process due to Egyptian authorities’ refusal to issue certain documents. People have been unable to obtain birth certificates, passports, and ID cards, causing their residencies abroad to become invalid, and forcing them to return to Egypt.Many have been refused these documents because they have been “arbitrarily” labelled terrorists by Egyptian authorities. In 2018, hundreds of Egyptian people were added to this “terrorism” list by court decisions that did not allow hearings or challenges from the alleged terrorists. Commenting on these developments HRW’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director Adam Coogle condemned the actions of the Egyptian government, saying: “After sparing no effort to crush domestic opposition and public dissent through mass arrests, unfair trials, and rampant torture in detention, the government is ramping up efforts to punish and silence those abroad.”HRW called for the President and Prime Minister of Egypt to stop Egyptian authorities from issuing these refusals of document renewals. It also encouraged host countries of Egyptian migrants to not deport these people to Egypt, as they may be at risk of persecution.
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