Egypt: Arbitrary detention and judicial harassment against six members of the performance satirical group Atfal al-Shawarea (“Street Children”)

06/07/2016
Urgent Appeal
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EGY 003 / 0716 / OBS 054
Arbitrary and secret detention /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
July 5, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention of Messrs. Ezz al-Din Khaled, Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Adel, Mohamed Gabr, Mohammed Yehia and judicial harassment against Mostafa Zein, six young artists, members of the performance satirical group Atfal al-Shawarea (“Street Children”) [1], known for posting videos on YouTube [2] commenting Egypt’s politics and news, and in particular criticising arbitrary detention and the use of torture in police stations.

According to the information received, on July 2, 2016, the East Cairo district prosecutors decided to extend the detention of Messrs. Ezz al-Din Khaled, Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Adel, Mohamed Gabr, Mohammed Yehia for another 15 days. The four had been arrested on May 10 for publishing videos critical of state institutions and inciting protests.

On May 8, 2016, Mr. Ezz al-Din Khaled, was also detained for two days in relation to the same videos and released with a bail of 10,000 LE (1,012 euros) pending investigation and trial. Mr. Mostafa Zein, although he was not arrested, also faces similar charges.

The East Cairo district prosecutors interrogated the four detained men about the following accusations: “taking part, with others, in establishing a group that aims at undermining the basics principles for a stable state”, “participating with others in disseminating false news and information with the effect of undermining general security, and damaging general interests”, “calling on others to resist authorities” and “inciting on toppling the regime established in Egypt” (Articles 171 and 174 of the Criminal Code). Prosecutors also questioned the four men about “indirectly” inciting “terrorist crimes” and indirectly disseminating terrorist thoughts by participating in videos that contained terrorist ideas (Articles 86 and 86 bis of the Criminal Code). They face up to ten years of detention.

On June 18, the prosecutor renewed their detention for 15 days.

On June 20, their case was sent by the East Cairo Public Prosecution Office to the Supreme State Security Prosecution. However, the latter decided to send back the case to the East Cairo Public Prosecution Office and produced a confidential report on the case.

The four will have to appear before the prosecutors again on July 13, 2016. Since their arrest, the four have not been brought before a judge, in violation of international human rights provisions related to fair trial.

During the custody, they have faced verbal abuse by police officers. The four are still detained in Cairo’s Heliopolis Police Station.

The Observatory strongly condemns the aforementioned judicial harassment and arbitrary detentions, as they only aim at sanctioning the right to freedom of expression of the six artists and their legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory calls upon the Egyptian judicial authorities to immediately and unconditionally release those detained and end the judicial harassment of members of “Street Children” by dropping all charges against them.

Finally, until the charges are dropped against them, the Observatory further urges the Egyptian authorities to ensure that all judicial proceedings against the six artists are carried out in full compliance with their right to a fair trial, as protected under international law.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Ezz al-Din Khaled, Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Adel, Mohamed Gabr, Mohammed Yehia and Mostafa Zein as well as of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Release immediately and unconditionally Messrs. Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Adel, Mohamed Gabr and Mohammed Yehia, as well as all human rights defenders currently in detention,as it seems to only aim at curtailing their human rights activities;

iii. Immediately drop all charges against Messrs. Ezz al-Din Khaled, Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Adel, Mohamed Gabr, Mohammed Yehia and Mostafa Zein as they only aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against the members of “Street Children” and all human rights defenders in Egypt;

v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:
- its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- its Article 6(b)(c), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to [...] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;
- its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Egypt.

Addresses:

· President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt, Fax: +202 23901998
· Prime Minister, Mr. Sherif Ismail, Magles El Shaab Street, Kasr El Aini Street, Cairo, Egypt. Fax: + 202 2735 6449 / 27958016. Email: primemin@idsc.gov.eg
· Minister of the Interior, General Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, Ministry of the Interior, El-Sheikh Rihan Street, Bab al-Louk, Cairo, Egypt, E-mail: moi1@idsc.gov.eg, Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 2794 5529
· Minister of Justice, Mr. Ahmed El Zend, Ministry of Justice, Magles El Saeb Street, Wezaret Al Adl, Cairo, Egypt, E-mail: mojeb@idsc.gov.eg, Fax: +202 2795 8103
· Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Dar al-Qadha al-Ali, Ramses Street, Cairo, Egypt, Fax: +202 2577 4716
· Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council For Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg
· H.E. Ms. Wafaa Bassim, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, 49 avenue Blanc, 1202 Genève, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@ties.itu.int, Fax: +41 22 738 44 15
· Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, 19 avenue de l’Uruguay, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: egyptembassy@embassyofegypt.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country.

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