Germany criticises Egypt on human rights ahead of COP27

Berlin on Sunday accused Egypt of not living up to its human rights obligations as the country prepares to host global leaders for the closely-watched COP27 climate talks.

delegates arriving at The Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Centre
The Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt's Red Sea resort of the same name, on November 6, 2022, where the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly known as COP27. Photo: JOSEPH EID / AFP

The German government’s human rights commissioner, Luise Amtsberg, urged summit host Egypt to release jailed dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah, currently on hunger strike, and his lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer.

“The fact that people who want to express their opinions freely and stand up for that right are punished with long prison sentences — sometimes under inhumane conditions — is unacceptable,” Amtsberg said in a statement.

“Assuming global responsibility also means, above all, assuming responsibility for the protection of human rights,” Amtsberg said.

“However, the human rights situation in Egypt does not do justice to this.”

Releasing Abdel Fattah and other political prisoners would send “an important signal” that Egypt takes its human rights responsibilities seriously, she added.

Cairo has faced frequent criticism over its human rights record since it was announced as COP27 host last year, a move rights groups said “rewards the repressive rule” of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Rights groups estimate that some 60,000 political prisoners are behind bars in Egypt, many of them in brutal conditions and overcrowded cells, accusations Cairo rejects.

Fifteen Nobel laureates last week joined calls for Egypt to free Abdel Fattah, a major figure in the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

The Egyptian-British writer and philosopher is serving a five-year sentence for “broadcasting false news”, having already spent much of the past decade behind bars.

He is currently on hunger strike and his relatives have warned that if he is not released during the climate conference, he will probably die in prison as he is due to stop drinking fluids from Sunday, the opening day of COP27.

Nearly 200 countries will be attending the talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, set to run until November 18.

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German Edeka store legitimises ‘dumpster-diving’ to reduce food waste

One German supermarket has found a solution for expired (but still edible) food: giving it away for free to customers.

German Edeka store legitimises 'dumpster-diving' to reduce food waste

A typical German supermarket dumps food waste that’s expired – but in many cases is still edible – in containers outside of its premises.

But as of this year, an Edeka in Ösnabrück, Lower Saxony, has set up a special station for food that has surpassed its official expiration date or is considered too old to still sit on shelves.

Any customer can stop by to pick up a variety of products, from fruits and veggies to packaged goods. 

“The most important thing is to get as many businesses as possible to stop throwing things away,” manager Guido Gartmann told German broadcaster NDR. “And if everyone puts a garbage can like this in front of their door, then there’s no need for [garbage] containers anymore.”

Per capita, Germans waste 55 kilograms of food each year, which the government has set a goal of halving by 2030

At the Edeka, a special “Golden Trash Can” offers built-in shelves stocked with foodstuffs which for various reasons are no longer good. A refrigerated section is filled with fruits and vegetables which would have otherwise been tossed in a dumpster.

Gartmann also collects left-over greenery that can be used as animal feed. Customers can take leeks, lettuce and more for their pets free of charge. 

The act of “dumpster-diving” – or taking thrown-out food from supermarkets’ bins – is currently illegal in Germany, so food has to explicitly be given away in order for people to be able to take it home.

However, Justice Minister Marco Buschmann of the Free Democrats and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir of the Greens have said they want to campaign against this in order to combat food waste.

READ ALSO: German ministers push to decriminalise ‘dumpster-diving’

Until it is legal to take edible food out of trash bins, there must be other ways to combat food waste, Özdemir recently said.

The idea of giving away expired food is entirely new. There are more and more supermarkets in Germany that donate old food – or mark it down to very low prices to encourage more consumers to scoop it off the shelves.

In addition, unsold goods are often donated to food banks.


Food waste – (die) Lebensmittelverschwendung

Waste containers – (der) Abfallbehälter

Unsellable – unverkäuflich

Food bank – (die) Tafel 

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