Egypt: Disciplinary harassment of Judges Assem Abel Gabbar and Hesham Raouf within the anti-torture bill case

07/04/2017
Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 002 / 0516 / OBS 042.3

Disciplinary harassment /
Threat of dismissal /
Restrictions to freedom of association
Egypt
April 7, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, 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 disciplinary harassment of Judges Assem Abel Gabbar, former Deputy Chief Justice of the Court of Cassation, and Hesham Raouf, who sits at Cairo’s Appeal Court and former Justice Minister’s assistant,to the ‎Disciplinary Council to consider their dismissal for “engaging in political activities”during their participation in the revision of the anti-torture bill.

According to the information received, on March 30, 2017, the Supreme Judicial Council referred the two judges to the Disciplinary Council for their removal from office on accusation of “engaging in political activities”. Messrs. Assem Abel Gabbar and Hesham Raoufhad collaborated with Mr. Negad El-Borai, human rights lawyer and Director of the “United Group – Attorneys-at-law, Legal Advisors” (United Group) [1], in the drafting of an anti-torture bill. The first hearing is scheduled to take place on April 24, 2017.

The Observatory recallsthat Mr. El-Borai is facing criminal charges of “establishing an unlicensed entity with the intent of inciting resistance wards to the authorities”, “implementing human rights activities without 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)” (see background information) in an investigation regarding the same anti-torture activity.

The Observatory considers that the aforementioned investigation and disciplinary harassment will further undermine human rights defenders’ efforts to fight against torture in the country. Moreover, they clearly show the unwillingness of Egyptian authorities to live up to their commitments [2] to bring the definition in the Penal Code of the crime of torture in line with international standards.

Therefore, the Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end to the harassment against Judges Assem Abel Gabbar and Hesham Raouf, as well as Negad El-Borai,by immediately dropping the ongoing proceedings against them.

Background information:

In March 2015, the Supreme Judicial Council filed a complaint against Mr. Negad El-Borai for drafting an anti-torture bill, organising a workshop to discuss it, and advocating before the Egyptian authorities for its adoption.

On May 21, 2015, Mr. Negad El-Borai was interrogated by an investigative judge in North Giza Court on the drafting of the anti-torture bill.

On March 3, 2016, Mr. El-Borai was interrogated for the fourth time by an investigative judge in relation to the same case. Subsequently, he was arrested, then released from custody on his guarantee of residence, and charged with “establishing an unlicensed entity with the intent of inciting resistance wards 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 April 6, 2016, United Group submitted its proposal of anti-torture bill to the House of Representatives’ Speaker and called for its adoption, after it had failed to get a response from Egyptian authorities one year after its presentation to various State bodies. At the moment of issuing this appeal, no answer has yet been received from any Egyptian authorities, including the Egyptian Parliament.

On May 17, 2016, Mr. Negad El-Borai was summoned for the fifth time before the investigative judge.

On June 5, 2016, Mr. El-Borai was again called for an interrogation, during which the investigative judge confronted his testimony with the statement made by the National Security Officer. The officer stated that Mr. El-Borai had “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”.

Moreover, Judge Hesham Raoufand Judge Assem Abdel Gabar, were also targeted for participating in the drafting process of the anti-torture bill. On November 12, 2016, Judge Abdulshafy Othman summoned Judge Hesham Raouf for an interrogation on the anti-torture bill.

Furthermore, on January 26, 2017, the airport authorities prevented Mr. Negad El-Borai from boarding his flight to Jordan at Cairo International Airport, pursuant to a travel ban issued by an investigating magistrate and the General Prosecutor within the framework of a criminal investigation under case No. 173/2011, known as the “foreign funding case against NGOs”.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Put an end to all forms of harassment - including at the disciplinary and judicial level - against Judges Hesham Raouf and Assem Abdel Gabar, as well as against Mr. Negad El-Borai, by dropping all proceedings against them, since they only aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally lift the travel ban against Mr. Negad El-Borai;

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;

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.

Addresses:

·President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 2391 1441, Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
·Prime Minister, Mr. Sherif Ismail. Fax: + 202 2735 6449 / 27958016
·Minister of the Interior, Mr. Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, E-mail: Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 2794 5529 

·Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103 

·Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly, Fax: +202 3337 5390 

·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: nchr@nchr.org.eg
·H.E. Ms. Wafaa Bassim, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Email: mission.egypt@ties.itu.int, Fax: +41 22 738 44 15
·Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country.

***

Geneva-Paris, April 7, 2017

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 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 and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

Read more
appelobs