The Church of Norway congratulates the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) for being awarded the Rafto Prize for 2020. ECRF documents, reports and raises awareness about the grave human rights violations in Egypt, and provides legal support to victims of human rights abuses.
- We are deeply concerned about the grave human rights violations in Egypt, says Berit Hagen Agøy, International Director of the Church of Norway. -We are impressed and grateful for the important work done by the ECRF. Almost ten years after the Arab Spring, it is more urgent than ever to focus on the alarming state of basic human rights in the Middle East. Egypt must respect fundamental human rights conventions, the rule of law, and the integrity and fundamental rights of its citizens, says Hagen Agøy.
ECRF was founded by Mohamed Lotfy and Ahmed Abdallah in the wake of the coup d'état in 2013. In a relatively short time ECRF has grown to a team of more than 50 lawyers and researchers as well as about 1000 volunteers. The aim of their work is to provide non-partisan support to human rights defenders. The organization conducts extensive documentation, monitoring and analysis of human rights violations.
Relations with the churches in Egypt
The Church of Norway has deep and longstanding relations with the churches and people of Egypt. In 2019, Berit Hagen Agøy and the eleven bishops of Church of Norway made a solidarity visit to Egypt and viewed first-hand the harsh conditions that many people live under. Christians in Egypt have a long and proud history, but also a history of svere oppression, and today they live the consequences of autocratic rule and severe human rights violations. The church in Egypt wants to play the part of a bridge-builder, while at the same time being faithful to its own mission of upholding human dignity and the protection of human rights. The bishops’ visit was a return visit after the head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, visited Norway in 2014.