The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (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 and judicial harassment of Mr. Hossam Bahgat, a prominent advocate for freedom of expression in Egypt, Chair of the Board and founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and writer for the online news site Mada Masr. Since 2014, he has published a series of investigative reports on Mada Masr on the increasing powers of Egypt’s army, the use of military tribunals against civilians and corruption of the family of former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.
According to the information received, on November 9, 2015, the prosecution ordered the detention of Mr. Hossam Bahgat for four days pending investigation in relation to an article he wrote for Mada Masr. The article, entitled “A coup busted” and published on October 13, 2015, was about the military trial of 26 military officers who were accused and convicted of planning a coup.
On November 5, 2015, the military intelligence had sent a summon to Mr. Hossam Bahgat to his house in Alexandria to report for questioning on November 8, 2015. On that date, at around 9 am, Mr. Hossam Bahgat went to the military intelligence premises in Nasr City in Cairo. He was neither allowed to take his cell phone in nor to be accompanied by a lawyer. He was interrogated on the above-mentioned article before being transferred from military intelligence to military prosecution. At around 5.30 pm, he was allowed to call for lawyers of his own choosing. He was then interrogated by the Military Prosecutor in the presence of his lawyers. The interrogation focused solely on his writing, in particular the October 13, 2015 article. He was informed that he faced charges of “deliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest” (under Article 102 bis of the Criminal Code) and “publishing, with malicious intent, false news that is likely to disturb public order” (Article 188). On November 9, 2015, Mr. Bahgat did not attend the hearing during which his detention was ordered until November 11, 2015. His current whereabouts remain unclear as the Prosecutor refused to tell lawyers where Mr. Bahgat is currently being held.
The Observatory expresses its concern regarding the arbitrary detention of Mr. Hossam Bahgat in an unknown location, which seems to aim only at preventing him from exercising his right to freedom of expression, and calls upon the Egyptian judicial authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.
Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Hossam Bahgat as well as all human rights defenders in Egypt;
ii. Immediately disclose the whereabouts of Mr. Hossam Bahgat;
iii. Release Mr. Hossam Bahgat immediately and unconditionally, as well as all human rights defenders currently in detention, since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to only aim at curtailing their human rights activities;
iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Hossam Bahgat and all human rights defenders in Egypt;
iv. 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister of the Interior, General Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, Ministry of the Interior, El-Sheikh Rihan Street, Bab al-Louk, Cairo, Egypt, E-mail: email@example.com, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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: email@example.com
H.E. Ms. Wafaa Bassim, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, 49 avenue Blanc, 1202 Genève, Switzerland, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country.
|Paris-Geneva, November 9, 2015|
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29