SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — The United Nations says it is investigating allegations of misconduct by Egyptian police officers providing security during this year’s international climate talks.
This follows claims that event participants in the German pavilion for the COP27 summit were photographed and filmed after Germany staged an event there with the sister of an imprisoned Egyptian pro-democracy activist, Alaa Abdel Fattah, who also holds British citizenship. .
In a statement issued to The Associated Press on Sunday, the UN climate agency confirmed that some of the security officials working in the portion of the site designated as United Nations territory are from the host country, Egypt.
This was due to the “scale and complexity of providing security at a large-scale event” such as the COP27 climate talks, the global body said. It added that their work is being “led by the operations of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UN DSS).”
“The security agents provided by the host country for this COP are from the National Police,” it said. “They are here to help strengthen the venue and ensure the safety and security of all participants.”
“UN DSS has been made aware of allegations of Code of Conduct violations and is investigating these reports,” the climate agency told The AP.
The German Foreign Ministry said on Saturday: that it was in contact with the Egyptian authorities about the incidents at the pavilion.
“We expect all participants in the UN Climate Change Conference to be able to work and negotiate in safe conditions,” it said in a statement. “This applies not only to the Germans, but to all delegations, as well as to representatives of civil society and the media.”
Egyptian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hosting the international summit in Egypt has put a spotlight on its human rights record.
According to a 2019 census by Human Rights Watch, the government has taken widespread crackdown on dissent in recent years, detaining some 60,000 people, many without trial.
Under President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, authorities also intimidated and banned independent media and local organizations. A prominent imprisoned activist, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, launched a hunger and water strike on the first day of the conference to draw attention to pressure for the release of himself and other detainees.
Abdel-Fattah rose to fame during the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings that spread across the Middle East, and in Egypt he reinforced calls for an end to police brutality. He spent a total of nine years behind bars and is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence for re-sharing a Facebook post about the death of another inmate.
Abdel-Fattah’s lawyer Khaled Ali said in a social media post on Sunday that he had not been allowed to visit the activist that afternoon, despite permission from the country’s prosecutor. He said to come back Monday morning. The family says they have received no evidence that he is alive since he stopped drinking water on Nov. 6, and have not received any messages from him since Oct. 31, when he announced his hunger strike and water strike.