Egypt: Conditional release and continuing judicial harassment of Mohamed Ramadan

03/12/2020
Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 005 / 1218 / OBS 142.1
Conditional release /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
December 3, 2020

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

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the conditional release and continuing judicial harassment of Mr. Mohamed Ramadan, a human rights lawyer who previously worked for the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)[1].

According to the information received, on December 2, 2020, Alexandria Criminal Court ordered the release of Mr. Mohamed Ramadan, with a bail of 5,000 EGP (approximately 270 Euros), pending Criminal Case 16576/2018, after nearly two years of pre-trial arbitrary detention. The order had not been executed at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Ramadan was arrested on December 10, 2018 shortly after posting a picture of himself wearing a yellow vest in solidarity with French anti-government protesters (see background information). His arrest came as the Egyptian authorities set restrictions to sales of yellow vests fearing opponents may use them in anti-government protests around the eighth anniversary of the January 2011 uprising that toppled former autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The Observatory welcomes the Court’s decision to release Mr. Mohamed Ramadan on bail, but recalls that he should never have been detained in the first place, his detention being arbitrary as it only aimed at sanctioning his legitimate human rights activities and exercice of his freedom of expression.

The Observatory calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Mohamed Ramadan, and to put an end any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rights defenders in the country.

Background information:

Mr. Mohamed Ramadan was arrested on December 10, 2018, by plainclothes security officers while coming back to his home in Alexandria after he attended an investigation with one of his clients. He was taken to the National Security Agency headquarter in Alexandria and his fate and whereabouts remained unknown to his family and lawyers until he appeared before the Montazah (Alexandria) prosecution on December 11, 2018.

On December 11, 2018, the Montazah prosecution ordered Mr. Mohamed Ramadan’s pre-trial detention for 15 days pending investigation under Criminal Case 16576/2018 over charges of “spreading false news”, “joining a terrorist group and promoting his ideas”, “using social media to propagate the goals of a terrorist group” and “possessing pamphlets and yellow vests to call for protests against the government similar to the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in France”, for allegedly posting a picture of himself in his Facebook account wearing a yellow vest in reference to the French “gilets jaunes” social protests and possessing five yellow vests at his place. Mr. Mohamed Ramadan denied the charges and his lawyer reminded that Egyptian law does not criminalise the possession of a yellow vest.

His pre-trial detention was constantly renewed up to December 2, 2020. Moreover, during his detention, Mr. Ramadan was refused a request to visit his sick mother and to attend her funeral.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Ramadan has been subject to harassment on previous occasions. In June 2017, he was fined 50,000 EGP (around 2,455 Euros) on charges of “conspiring to protest and disrupt a public throughway” following his participation in peaceful protests, but appealed against the decision and was later acquitted of these charges at the end of 2017.

On April 12, 2017, Mr. Ramadan was sentenced in absentia - as he was in hospital at that time and the court refused to reschedule the hearing - to ten years in prison followed by five years of house arrest, and banned from using Internet and social media for five years, on charges of “insulting the president”, “misusing social media”, and “inciting violence” under the 2015 anti-terrorism law[2] for his alleged involvement in protests over Egypt’s transfer of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia. A retrial was requested by Mr. Ramadan’s lawyer and ordered in July 2017 but was suspended in June 2018 and will remain so pending a Supreme Constitutional Court’s decision on the anti-terrorism law, under which articles Mr. Ramadan was charged.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Mohamed Ramadan and all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Mohamaed Ramadan and all human rights defenders in Egypt;

iii. End any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Mohamed Ramadan and ensure all the human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1, and 12;

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, Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
• Prime Minister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg
• Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email: center@iscmi.gov.eg
• Head of the Egyptian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Alaa Abed, Email: humanrightscomplaints@parliament.gov.eg
• Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg
• H.E. Mr. Alaa Youssef, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@bluewin.ch
• Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Egypt in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, December 3, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
• Tel OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39


[1] Founded in 2004, ANHRI is a non-governmental organization that promotes the right to freedom of expression and freedom of press in Egypt and in the Arab world.
[2] Article 29 of the law allows for sentencing of up to 10 years in prison for creating a social media account that promotes “terrorist” activities or harms national interests.

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