Egypt: Intimidation and judicial harassment of Ms. Aida Seif al Dawla

16/10/2019
Urgent Appeal

EGY 007 / 1019 / OBS 080
Judicial harassment /
Intimidation / Surveillance
Egypt
October 16, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and 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 judicial harassment and acts of intimidation against Dr. Aida Seif al Dawla, Director and one of the co-founders of El Nadeem Center against Violence and Torture [1].

According to the information received, on October 8, 2019, El Nadeem received an official summon order for Dr. Aida Seif al Dawla, dated October 7, 2019, asking her to appear before al-Azbakeya prosecution office on the same day. The next day, on October 9, 2019, Dr. Aida Seif al Dawla’s lawyer went to inquire about the reason for the summon order and was told that a private individual (not a State official) had submitted a complaint (No. 1876/2019) accusing her, as a member of El Nadeem Center, of “damaging the reputation of the country by publishing false statement, news and rumours”.

During the last week of September 2019, Dr. Aida Seif al Dawla had already received two unofficial summonses to appear before the prosecution by someone who claimed to be a delegate from al-Azbakeya prosecution office. The delegate left a message with the guard of the office building with a phone number, insisting that it was important for Dr. Aida Seif al Dawla to go. She also received several phone calls saying that a lawyer had filed a complaint against her. Up to October 8, no one from El Nadeem Center had received any official summon document.

Moreover, on October 1, 2019, two unidentified men tried to enter El Nadeem Center’s office without introducing themselves and, when asked, said that they were “looking for a lawyer whom the informants said was good”. On that same day, one of El Nadeem Center’s visitors said that while going to the office the person was stopped by the owner of a kiosk (underneath the office) and asked where s/he was going, explaining that he had been instructed to monitor and question anyone entering the office building.

The Observatory recalls that Dr. Aida Seif al Dawla was put under travel ban in November 2016 [2], and that El Nadeem Center was closed by the police in February 2017 (its legal department had already been closed by the authorities since February 2015) under the pretext of administrative breaches [3]. In March 2017, the State Council issued a non-binding report declaring the administrative closure of El Nadeem Center as illegal [4].

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the judicial harassment and acts of intimidation against Ms. Aida Seif al Dawla and other members of the El Nadeem Center, which seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Egyptian authorities to put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Aida Seif al Dawla and all human rights defenders in Egypt.

Actions requested:  

Please write to the authorities in Egypt, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms. Aida Seif al Dawla, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Aida Seif al Dawla, all members of El Nadeem Center and all human rights defenders in Egypt and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;

iii. Conform in all circumstances to the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2.;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights 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. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg 
• Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email: center@iscmi.gov.eg
• Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103 
• Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
• Head of the Egyptian parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Alaa Abed, Email: humanrightscomplaints@parliament.gov.eg
• Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg
• H.E. Mr. Alaa Youssef, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@bluewin.ch
• Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, 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. 

***
Paris-Geneva, October 16, 2019

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

[1] El Nadeem Center is an independent non-governmental organisation conducting anti-torture activities in Egypt. It manages a clinic, conducts advocacy, campaigning and provides legal aid to survivors of torture and violence. The clinic is registered in Egypt both with the Doctors’ Syndicate and the Ministry of Health and has provided hundreds of torture victims with vital services including counseling, long and short term psychotherapy and rehabilitation. The Center issues monthly summaries of reported instances of torture, deaths, and medical negligence in police custody. Many of the Center’s patients say they have been tortured by Egyptian security forces.
[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 005 / 1116 / OBS 102, published on November 24, 2016.
[3] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 001 / 0216 / OBS 019.4, published on February 9, 2017.
[4] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 001 / 0216 / OBS 019.5, published on March 23, 2017.

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