Rushanara Ali MP statement on the two-year anniversary of the arrest of Karim Ennarah

November marks the two-year anniversary of the arrest of Karim Ennarah, along with two of his colleagues from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). Two years on from his initial arrest, Karim Ennarah, remains under an asset freeze and travel ban in Egypt, and therefore unable to be re-united with his British wife, Jessica Kelly.

Last summer, Rushanara Ali, along with Tammy Baldwin, wrote to President Biden and the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on the use of travel bans and asset freezes in Egypt. Since President Sisi came to power, Egyptian authorities have used travel bans and asset freezes to repress human rights defenders, journalists and other critics. The bans, such as those on Karim, are a key component of Egypt’s wider crackdown on civil society. They allow the government to silently punish its critics without the international attention that prison sentences or lengthy pretrial detention attract.

As we approach COP27, hosted in Egypt, Rushanara Ali MP said: 

“Two years on after Karim’s initial arrest, it is devastating that he remains under a travel ban and asset freeze, meaning he can’t be reunited with his wife, Jessica Kelly, who is my constituent. Despite support from hundreds of MPs and Peers, calling on action from the Foreign Office to secure the lifting of these restrictions, little progress has been made. I have written to new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly with a copy of the letter sent to Boris Johnson in July.  

As COP27 approaches, I urge the Foreign Office to use this opportunity to put more pressure on the Egyptian authorities to lift these punitive restrictions on Karim and others, especially since his arrest was triggered by a meeting with the British Deputy Ambassador and diplomats from 12 other western countries. Hosting COP is a major moment for Egypt but it should not divert attention away from the devastating impact that unlawful travel bans are having on people such as Karim and Jessica.” 



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