Human Rights Commissioner on the awarding of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

World Press Freedom Prize to Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid 

BERLIN, Germany, May 4, 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (2 May) on the awarding of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2018 to the detained Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid (known as Shawkan):

I am pleased that UNESCO has awarded this year’s Press Freedom Prize to the Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, who is also known as Shawkan. An independent international jury awarded him the prize for “his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression”.

I welcome the attention that the prize will bring to Shawkan’s case. The German Government has repeatedly expressed its profound concern on Mr Abu Zeid’s treatment by the Egyptian authorities. On 3 March 2017, the public prosecution office called for the death penalty to be handed down to all 739 defendants in the case, including Mr Abu Zeid. Prior to this, he had been remanded in custody from August 2013 to December 2016 without charges.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has qualified Mr Abu Zeid’s arrest and detention as arbitrary and contrary to the rights and freedoms laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, respect for human rights and a free civil society are basic prerequisites for social harmony and lasting stability, and also the best defence against radicalisation and extremism. I thus encourage the Egyptian authorities to create conditions in which journalists and other members of civil society can do their work unhindered – work that is important for the country.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Germany – Federal Foreign Office.

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