The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continuing judicial harassment against Mr. Negad El-Borai, human rights lawyer and Director of the “United Group – Attorneys-at-law, Legal Advisors” (United Group) .
According to the information received, Mr. Negad El-Borai will be summoned today, May 17, 2016, at 3 pm, for a fifth investigation audience  for 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 .
It has to be recalled that Mr. El-Borai already 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)”.
The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Negad El-Borai for drafting an anti-torture bill, which is particularly striking since the Egyptian government had committed in March 2015 before the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to carry out legislative amendments to help combat the crime of torture effectively. This is a signal that this kind of civil society initiatives are more relevant and necessary than ever.
Furthermore, the Observatory expresses its concern that this is not an isolated case, but it is one of the many in anincreasing crackdown targeting human rights defenders and organisations fighting against torture in Egypt. For instance, since February 2016, the authorities have attempted several times to close El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation for Victims of Violence and Torture , with the accusation of performing unlicensed work, since some of its activities did not fall within the mandate for which the Center had been licensed, including its anti-torture advocacy activities . This happened in the aftermath of the international outrage provoked by the kidnapping, torturing and killing of the Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni in Cairo.
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 Observatorywarns 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.
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 Mr. Negad El-Borai, the United Group, anti-torture organisations, and all human rights defenders in Egypt;
ii. Drop all charges against Mr. Negad El-Borai, as they only aim at sanctioning his legitimate human rights activities;
iii. 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 5(b): “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;”
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”;
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, 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, Judge Hossam Abdel Rehim, 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.