Egyptian authorities need to stop arbitrarily detaining Syrians, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a Thursday press release.
The military and police in Egypt have arrested at least 72 Syrian men and nine boys at checkpoints throughout Cairo on 19 and 20 June, according to HRW. Of the 81 detained Syrians that remain in custody, at least nine have valid visas or residence permits and have not been charged with a crime.
HRW said at least 14 of the detainees have been threatened with deportation to countries neighbouring Syria.
“Under international refugee and human rights law, the Egyptian government may not send anyone to a place where their life or freedom is threatened, or where they risk torture or inhuman or degrading treatment,” read the HRW release.
HRW said large-scale arrests began on 19 July, especially outside Obour City, where a large contingency of refugees resides.
“There is growing hostility in Egypt to the Syrians who fled there seeking refuge from the war,” said deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa at HRW, Nadim Houry in the release.
“But a tense political climate is no excuse for police and army officers to pull dozens of Syrian men and boys off public transport and throw them in jail without regard for their rights.”
Some Egyptian media, especially after the 30 June demonstrations against ousted president Mohamed Morsi, have fueled hostility towards Syrians. Media figures such as Tawfik Okasha, the owner of Al-Faraeen satellite channel, has called on Egyptians to arrest Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians they see in Cairo and gave Syrians a 48-hour ultimatum to stop “supporting the Muslim Brotherhood” or Egyptians would destroy their homes.
Earlier this month nine human rights organisations condemned hate speech towards Syrian and Palestinian refugees. They blamed various media personalities for spreading politically-motivated xenophobia targeting refugees.
This week the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would not charge entry visa fees for Syrian refugees, saying that issuing entry visas for Syrians was a “temporary measure inherently linked to the current conditions of the country.”