Egypt: Conditional release of 4 members of the performance satirical group "Street Children"

23/09/2016
Urgent Appeal

New Information
EGY 003 / 0716 / OBS 054.1
Conditional release /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
September 23, 2016

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

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the conditional release of Messrs. Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Adel, Mohamed Gabr and Mohammed Yehia, and the continuous judicial harassment against them and two other members of the performance satirical group Atfal al-Shawarea (“Street Children”), Mostafa Zein and Ezz al-Din Khaled.

According to the information received, on September 11, 2016, Messrs. Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Adel, Mohamed Gabr and Mohammed Yehiawere conditionally released from Heliopolis Police Station. The release follows a South Cairo Court decision adopted on September 7, 2016 following an appeal challenging the tenth renewal of their detention since their arrest in May. The court granted the four a release with precautionary measures that have not yet been announced.

On September 5, 2016, the East Cairo Prosecutor decided to renew the detention of the “Street Children” band members pending investigations.

The Observatory welcomes the conditional release of the four, but condemns the continuing judicial harassment against them and two other members of “Street Children”, as it only aims at sanctioning the right to freedom of expression of the six artists.

The Observatory calls upon the Egyptian judicial authorities to end the judicial harassment of the members of “Street Children” by dropping all charges against them, and until then, 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.

Background information:

“Street Children” is composed of six members, all around twenty years old, who wanted to perform in the street to make their shows accessible to people who cannot not afford it. They started posting videos on YouTube in January 2016. They are singing about diverse topics such as the Muslim Brotherhood or the value of the Egyptian pound in the street [1].

On May 8, 2016, Mr. Ezz al-Din Khaled, was detained for two days in relation to videos critical of state institutions and inciting protests 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.

On May 10, 2016, Messrs. Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Adel, Mohamed Gabr and Mohammed Yehia had been arrested for publishing videos critical of state institutions and inciting protests.

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.

On July 2, 2016, the East Cairo district prosecutors decided to extend the detention of the four for another 15 days.

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

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. 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;

ii. 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;

iii. 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;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 6(b)(c), and 12.2;

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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