Egypt: Arbitrary detention and confirmation of the sentencing of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry

22/05/2014
Urgent Appeal
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EGY 001 / 0514 / OBS 045
Arbitrary detention / Sentencing /
Judicial harassment /
Repression of peaceful protest
Egypt
May 22, 2014

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), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention and confirmation of the sentencing of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, a human rights lawyer known for her activism in favour of judicial independence and prisoners’ rights by organising peaceful protests, using social media to denounce human rights violations and organising support activities for political prisoners, following her participation in a peaceful protest aimed at denouncing police repression in Egypt, as well as the repression of a peaceful demonstration to call for her release.

According to the information received, on May 20, 2014, the Sidi Gaber Misdemeanour Court in Alexandria rejected the objection filed by Ms. Manhienour El-Massry regarding the sentence issued against her in absentia on January 2, 2014, convicting her to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of EGP 50,000 (approximately EUR 5,143). She was sentenced for “protest without a permit” and “assaulting security forces”. Ms. Mahienour El-Massry was immediately detained following the hearing.

The charges were brought against Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and seven other members of the political group “Revolutionary Socialists” [1], including human rights lawyer Mr. Hassan Mustafa [2], after they organised a protest on December 2, 2013 related to Khaled Saeed murder’s retrial. Khaled Saeed was killed by police forces on June 6, 2012 and subsequently became a symbol of police repression during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. The eight defendants were first convicted on January 2, 2014 by Alexandria Manshiya Misdemeanour Court.

The appeal to the May 20 decision of Ms. Maheinour El-Massry has been scheduled for June 26, 2014. According to her lawyers, the appeal date is too far away in violation of criminal law procedural provisions. Therefore, the lawyers will file on May 22, 2014 a request for an earlier appeal date. Meanwhile, Ms. Maheinour El-Massry remains detained in Damanhour prison.

Moreover, Ms. El-Massry is also facing trial on separate charges for an incident that occurred in March 2013. The case was only referred to court on May 8, 2014, but the appointed judge resigned from the bench, and the next hearing before a different circuit is scheduled for June 16, 2014. Ms. El-Massry is charged in this case with “assaulting security forces”, after she and other lawyers went to Raml police station to provide legal assistance to three activists who were arrested and sent to the police by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. The lawyers were attacked by the police in the police station, and Ms. El-Massry was detained briefly before the Prosecution decided to release her and the others.

Finally, on May 22, 2014, the Egyptian security forces violently repressed participants to a solidarity march organised outside of the headquarters of the Egyptian Center for Economic & Social Rights (ECESR) in Alexandria, following a press conference organised to show support for Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, Once the march ended, the security forces stormed into ECESR’s headquarters twice, smashed its contents and arrested its employers. In the meantime, activists who participated in the march were chased on the side streets.

Messrs. Mohamed Ramadan and Mohamed Hafez, lawyers of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) in Alexandria, were among those beaten and arrested by the police, as well as other human rights activists defenders and political activists, including Messrs. Mohamed Mokhtar, Essam Al-Mahdy, Magdy Al-Naqeeb, Khaled Salah Al-DIn (Khaled Touson), Mohamed Khalil, Mustafa Qamar, Yousef Al-Saeed (a minor), Mustafa Al-Sayyed Eissa (ECESR photographer), Islam Mamdouh, Abdullah Al-Naggar, Ahmed Abdel-Salam Mahmoud, Metry Mouhab Gebrial, Mohamed Awad (lawyer at ECESR), Taher Mokhtar (member of Doctors’ Syndicate), Moamen Habiba, Hesham Essam (a minor), Mohamed Al-Shafie, Ahmed Misho, Mostafa Anwar and Ms. Isis Khalil (a journalist) and Ms. Riham Helmi.

They were detained in Alexandria Security Directorate. Then they were released after seizing the case’s file of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry along with the clearance that was issued by security bodies to some activists in order to visit the activist in the prison. Some other documents were also impounded.

The case of Ms. Maheinour Al Masry is illustrative of a wider repression campaign targeting human rights defenders opposing the current regime in the country since the “Protest Law” [3] was passed in November 2013. This controversial law bans gathering of 10 or more people without a permit issued by the authorities. Based on this law, Founders of the April 6 Youth Movement, Mr. Ahmed Maher and Mr. Mohamed Adel, were also sentenced to three years of prison and a 50,000 EGP fine by the Cairo Criminal Court on December 22, 2013 for organising an unauthorised protest and allegedly attacking police forces in November 2013 [4].

The Observatory expresses its concern regarding the conviction and ongoing arbitrary detention of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, which seems to aim only at preventing her from carrying out her peaceful human rights activities, and calls upon the Egyptian judicial authorities to immediately and unconditionally release her.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Release Ms. Mahienour El-Massry immediately and unconditionally, as well as all human rights defenders currently in detention, since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to only aim at curtailing their human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and all human rights defenders in Egypt;

iv. 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(a): “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 (a) To meet or assemble peacefully”
- its Article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;
- 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”;

v. 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. Adly Mansour, Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt, Fax: +202 23901998
· Prime Minister Mr. Ibrahim Mehleb, Magles El Shaab Street, Kasr El Aini Street, Cairo, Egypt. Fax: + 202 2735 6449 / 27958016. Email: primemin@idsc.gov.eg
· Minister of the Interior, General Mohamed Ibrahim, Ministry of the Interior, El-Sheikh Rihan Street, Bab al-Louk, Cairo, Egypt, E-mail: moi1@idsc.gov.eg, Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 2794 5529
· Minister of Justice, Mr. Neir Othman, Ministry of Justice, Magles El Saeb Street, Wezaret Al Adl, Cairo, Egypt, E-mail: mojeb@idsc.gov.eg, Fax: +202 2795 8103
· Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Hisham Barakat 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: nchr@nchr.org.eg
· H.E. Ms. Wafaa Bassim, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, 49 avenue Blanc, 1202 Genève, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@ties.itu.int, 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: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

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

***
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

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