Africa: Stringent Security Measures for COP27

Dozens of people who called for demonstrations during the COP27 climate conference underway in Egypt were arrested in the lead up to the opening of the conference, Human Rights Watch said in a statement Sunday.

Security measures in Sharm el-Sheikh, the resort town where the conference is being held, have been stringent. Officials have required the installation of cameras in all taxis, a move that allows security agency surveillance of drivers and passengers, HRW said.

In addition, Egyptian officials have imposed what HRW describes as an “unduly complicated process” for registering for access to the Green Zone outside the COP venue. In previous summits, the Green Zone has been open — allowing for an exchange of ideas on climate issues and giving summit participants the opportunity to interact with the public.

The Egyptian government has also released a smartphone application for attendees that asks for personal information, including passport numbers. HRW said an analysis of the application by two local rights groups revealed the app required access to the phone’s camera, microphone, location and Bluetooth connection. HRW said all the information gathered from the phone app could also be shared with third parties, raising privacy issues.

HRW said the restrictions “would effectively hinder meaningful participation by nongovernmental groups and journalists during COP, preventing a successful and ambitious outcome of the climate summit.”

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