The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continuing judicial harassment against Judge Hesham Raouf, from Cairo’s Appeal Court and former Justice Minister’s assistant, Mr. Negad El-Borai, human rights lawyer and Director of the “United Group – Attorneys-at-law, Legal Advisors” (United Group) , and Judge Assem Abdel Gabar, who are all under investigation for participating in the drafting of the Anti-Torture Bill.
According to the information received, Judge Abdulshafy Othman officially summoned Judge Hesham Raouf to an investigation session on November 12, 2016, to discuss the charges retained against him for his participation in the drafting of the Anti-Torture Bill that United Group submitted to the President for promulgation (see background information).
The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment against Judge Hesham Raouf, along with Mr. Negal El-Borei and Judge Assem Abdel Gabar, for drafting an anti-torture bill, which is particularly striking since the Egyptian Government had committed in March 2015 before the 28 th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to carry out legislative amendments to help combat the crime of torture effectively.
It has to be noted that the criminalisation of anti-torture work comes at a time of rising government pressure on human rights defenders and organisations in Egypt , in the context of a dramatic deterioration of the human rights situation in the country, marked namely by a serious crackdown on civil society and a notable increase in cases of torture, deaths in detention and enforced disappearances.
In the light of this worrying situation, the Observatory warns about the ever shrinking space for anti-torture organisations and defenders whose work in Egypt is of vital importance, and calls upon the Egyptian authorities to put an end to any form of harassment to the work of civil society fighting torture and promoting human rights in the country.
On May 17, 2016, at 3 pm, Mr. Negad El-Borai was summoned for a fifth investigation audience  following the complaint filed by the High Judicial Council against him for drafting an anti-torture bill in March 2015, organising a workshop to discuss it, and advocating before the Egyptian authorities for its adoption in April 2015 .
Previously Mr. El-Borai attended four investigation sessions for this same case, the last one on March 3, 2016, when he was arrested and subsequently released from custody on his guarantee of residence, and charged with “establishing an unlicensed entity for the intent of inciting resistance to the authorities”, “implementing human rights activities without a license”, “deliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest” and “receiving funds from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC)”.
On June 5, 2016, Mr. El-Borai was again called for an investigation session, during which the Investigating Judge confronted him with the National Security officer’s depositions. The officer stated in a memorandum that Mr. El-Borai “received funds from foreign organisations to bring down the State and attract youth to establish political movements in order to turn public opinion against the State using methods of “non-violence”. He added that Mr. El-Borai “gives statements to the media that turn public opinion against the State inside and outside the country using the indirect methods of the “minds revolution” that causes its fall.
Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:
i. Put an end to all forms of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Judge Hesham Raouf, Negad El-Borai, the United Group, and in general against anti-torture organisations and all human rights defenders in Egypt;
ii. Drop all charges against Judge Hesham Raouf and Negad El-Borai, as they only aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities;
iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 5(b) and 12.2;
For more information about the judicial harassment and restrictions to freedom of association targeting various civil society organisations, by freezing their assets on the pretext that they received unauthorised foreign funding, as well as individual human rights defenders, by prosecuting and criminalising them, see the Observatory Joint Press Release of March 23, 2016. See also the joint statement released by three UN Special rapporteurs of May 9, 2016.
iv. 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, Fax: +202 23901998
· Prime Minister, Mr. Sherif Ismail, Fax: + 202 2735 6449 / 27958016. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Minister of the Interior, General Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, E-mail: email@example.com, Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 2794 5529
· Minister of Justice, Judge Hossam Abdel Rehim, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: +202 2795 8103
· Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, 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, Switzerland, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org , Fax: +41 22 738 44 15
· Embassy of Egypt in 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.