The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), 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 release of Mr. Hossam Bahgat, a prominent advocate for freedom of expression in Egypt, Chair of the Board and founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and writer for the online news site Mada Masr. Since 2014, he has published a series of investigative reports on Mada Masr on the increasing powers of Egypt’s army, the use of military tribunals against civilians and corruption of the family of former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.
According to the information received, on November 10, 2015, Mr. Hossam Bahgat was released from the Military Intelligence building after signing a statement stating the following: “I will abide by legal and security procedures when publishing material pertaining to the Armed Forces and asserting that I did not experience any physical or emotional abuse during my detention at military intelligence." At the time of publication of this appeal, it remained unclear whether charges will be pressed against Mr. Bahgat.
The Observatory recalls that on November 9, 2015, the prosecution ordered the detention of Mr. Hossam Bahgat until November 11, 2015, pending investigation in relation to an article he wrote for Mada Masr. The detention followed a summons made on November 5, 2015 by the military intelligence to Mr. Hossam Bahgat to his house in Alexandria to report for questioning on November 8, 2015. On that date, at around 9 am, Mr. Hossam Bahgat went to the military intelligence premises in Nasr City in Cairo. He was neither allowed to take his cell phone in nor to be accompanied by a lawyer. He was interrogated on his writing before being transferred from military intelligence to military prosecution. At around 5.30 pm, he was allowed to call for lawyers of his own choosing. He was then interrogated by the Military Prosecutor in the presence of his lawyers. The interrogation focused solely on his writing, in particular an article entitled “A coup busted” published on October 13, 2015 about the military trial of 26 military officers who were accused and convicted of planning a coup. He was informed that he faced charges of “deliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest” (under Article 102 bis of the Criminal Code) and “publishing, with malicious intent, false news that is likely to disturb public order” (Article 188) and was placed in detention overnight in an unknown location. On November 9, 2015, the Military Prosecutor ordered his detention until November 11, 2015.
The Observatory welcomes the release of Mr. Hossam Bahgat and thanks all the individuals, institutions, and organisations that intervened in his favour. However, the Observatory deeply regrets that he was arbitrarily detained for two days before being released.
Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Hossam Bahgat as well as all human rights defenders in Egypt;
ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Hossam Bahgat and all human rights defenders in Egypt;
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 6(b) (c), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to [...] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;
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, Mr. Ahmed El Zend, Ministry of Justice, 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.
|Paris-Geneva, November 13, 2015|
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
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