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Cop27: Italian human rights campaigner deported from Cairo airport

Giorgio Caracciolo, who was accredited to attend the UN climate summit, denied entry into Egypt without reason
Giorgio Caracciolo, a senior director at Danish organisation DIGNITY, was deported from Cairo International Airport on 10 November 2022 (Twitter)
Giorgio Caracciolo, a senior director at Danish organisation DIGNITY, was deported from Cairo International Airport on 10 November 2022 (Twitter)

A senior director at a Danish human rights organisation has been denied entry into Egypt to attend an event on the fringes of the Cop27 United Nations climate change conference. 

Giorgio Caracciolo, Middle East and North Africa regional manager for DIGNITY (Danish Institute Against Torture), was deported from Cairo airport on Thursday morning, the rights group said in a statement.

He was scheduled to meet human rights defenders at the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, and was travelling with a valid visa and accreditation to attend as an NGO representative. 

“I got an entry stamp in my passport. When I had made like two steps into the country, I was called back. Apparently because something had appeared on the computer screen,” Caracciolo said from an airport in Paris. 

The Italian citizen added was not given a reason for the rejection. 

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“Cop27 is taking place, the Egyptian regime opened its doors to the world, but kept some closed,” he wrote in a Twitter thread. 

Caracciolo has previously been arbitrarily detained at Cairo airport for three hours, with his phone and laptop confiscated, according to DIGNITY. On that occasion he was later allowed into the country.

'Is it because I am Italian?'

“Out of all the human rights defenders that were allowed in the country these days (just these days) why not me. Is it because the organisation I represent focus on the most intimate tools used by the regime, that is torture and violence?” Caracciolo asked. 

“Is it because we said that torture is not only systematic but systemic, meaning the police officer is as responsible as the system of judges, prosecutors, and the highest level of the governing apparatus.”

“Or is it because I am Italian and they worry I might be trying to deliver notification of trial to the four high ranking officers standing trial in Italy for the torture and murder of researcher Giulio Regeni,” he added. 

Regeni, an Italian doctoral candidate at Cambridge University who was researching independent trade unions in Egypt, was discovered dead in January 2016, after being left semi-naked on the side of the Cairo-Alexandria highway.

His body showed that he had been beaten, burned and stabbed before his neck was broken after being struck from behind with a heavy, blunt object.

Cop27 is taking place in the Red Sea resort town from 6-18 November, amid tight restrictions on peaceful assembly and free speech. 

At least 60,000 political prisoners are estimated to have been jailed since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi overthrew Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, in 2013. 

Earlier this week, an Egyptian MP was escorted by security out of a hall at the Cop27 climate conference after heckling Sanaa Seif, the sister of imprisoned British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah.

Amr Darwish, a pro-government parliamentarian, was captured on video grabbing a microphone and assailing Seif and other speakers in Arabic before security intervened.

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