CAIRO: Human Rights Watch (HRW) “was informed” that its delegation’s visit was postponed to September and that its staff did not have the prerequisite visas for their work, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement early Tuesday.
Kenneth Roth and Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW executives, were denied entry into Egypt Sunday “without an explanation” for the decision, HRW said in a subsequent statement. They were to brief journalists and diplomats on the “mass killings” in Egypt in July and August 2013, following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
“The organization’s delegation arrived at Cairo Airport on the date they set for their part without obtaining the required visas to enter the country. This is consistent with approach pursued by the organization, as it perceives itself an entity above the law and not subject to its provisions,” the Ministry of Interior said.
It added that the authorities were keen to cooperate with the watchdog, and to also maintain the state’s sovereign rights.
HRW said that it wrote to several Egyptian officials in June to receive their feedback on the issues covered in the report, slated for release Tuesday, wrote again in July to request meetings with them during the August visit, and finally sent them copies of the report on Aug. 6.
The watchdog added that it did not receive “substantive responses” to its queries.
The ministry statement said that HRW previously withdrew its request to produce a work license in Egypt as a foreign NGO; however, its delegation sought to enter Egypt to release the report and practice work “without legal basis.”
Aug. 14 marks the first anniversary of the forcible dispersal of the pro-Morsi Rabaa al-Adaweya and al-Nahda sit-ins, but the Egyptian authorities said the timing of the visit was not “suitable.”
The New York-based NGO placed the figures of killed protesters at Rabaa al-Adaweya at 817 in a single day.
According to the National Council for Human Rights, the dispersal of the two sit-ins resulted in at least 632 deaths, coinciding with Ministry of Interior figures. Reports by the Muslim Brotherhood place the number at over 2,500, and reports by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights place the number at 904, including a list of names of the deceased.
The Forensics Authority announced 627 deaths at Rabaa dispersal and 21 at Nahda.
HRW closed its office in Cairo in February, citing concernsabout the“deteriorating security and political environment.”