EGYPT : Human rights defenders Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif are free !

Press release
en es

(Geneva, Paris) Yesterday Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a presidential pardon in favour of 100 imprisoned youths, including human rights defenders Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif. Both were released from prison on the same day.

Ms. Yara Sallam, transitional Justice Officer at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), and Ms. Sanaa Seif, a member of the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” movement, were among demonstrators arrested in an anti-Protest Law assembly outside Ittihadiya Palace in June 2014. Both had been sentenced in appeal in December 2014 along with 21 other protesters to two years of imprisonment and two years of police surveillance.

They had been accused of “breaching the protest law” under the “Anti-Protest Law”, “sabotaging public properties”, “possession of inflammable materials” and “taking part in showing off force with the objective of terrorising the public”.

Over the past years, the Observatory had constantly called for their release through urgent interventions, communications to relevant inter-governmental bodies, and advocacy actions.

“The release of Yara and Sanaa is a huge relief for the whole human rights movement. Nonetheless, their judicial harassment is a reminder of the ongoing repression of human rights defenders in Egypt. The authorities must now amend the 2013 anti-protest law and make it compliant with the country’s international law obligations.”
Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

“While welcoming the release of Yara and Sanaa, we deplore that other human rights defenders such as Mahienour El-Massry or Alaa Abdel-Fattah remain behind bars for their legitimate human rights activities. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all human rights defenders detained throughout the country and for an immediate end of the authorities’ crackdown on dissident voices.”
Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General

The Observatory recalls that the restrictive protest law has been used by the authorities as a tool to imprison human rights defenders. This controversial law bans gatherings of 10 or more people without a permit issued by the authorities.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (OBS) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders.

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