Egypt: Judicial harassment of Ms. Azza Soliman

29/01/2015
Urgent Appeal
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The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment of Ms. Azza Soliman, human rights lawyer and founder of the Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Aid (CEWLA).

EGY 001 / 0115 / OBS 007
Judicial harassment
Egypt
January 29, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of theInternational 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:

On January 24, 2015, Ms. Azza Soliman voluntarily went to the Public Prosecution’s office to give her testimony regarding the violent dispersal of a protest organised by the political party Popular Alliance on the same day by security forces, which lead to the death of one political activist. Ms. Soliman did not take part in the protest, but was coincidentally in the same area and witnessed the dispersal and the shooting of the activist.

After waiting several hours at the Public Prosecution’s office, Ms. Azza Soliman was finally able to give her testimony, pointing out the responsibility of the police for the death of the activist. Ms. Soliman also filed a complaint accusing the Minister of Interior and security forces of having violently dispersed the peaceful protest.

Upon completion of her testimony, the prosecutor then interrogated her, and informed her that he had pressed charges against her and four other witnesses for “illegal gathering” and “participating in an unauthorised protest that harmed public security”[1]. Ms. Soliman was released along with the other four, pending investigation.

The Observatory strongly condemns the judicial harassment against Ms. Azza Soliman, which only aims at sanctioning her recent reports on human rights violations, as part of her legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the authorities to drop all charges held against her, and put an immediate end to this judicial harassment.

The Observatory deems that this case illustrates a wider trend of repression against human rights defenders in Egypt. In particular, the Observatory condemns the restrictive protest law, which bans gatherings of ten or more people without a permit issued by the authorities, and which has been repeatedly used by the authorities as a tool to harass and imprison human rights defenders.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Azza Soliman and the four other witnesses, as well as of all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Drop the charges against Ms. Azza Solimanand the four other witnesses, and put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them and all human rights defenders in Egypt;

iii. Reform the restrictive protest law in order to allow human rights defenders to carry out their activities in the country and in order to allow for the population to participate in peaceful demonstrations;

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. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, 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 Moustafa, 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. Mahmoud Saber, 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.

***
Paris-Geneva, January 29, 2015

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

The Observatory, a 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.


[1] The four witnesses are facing additional charges.

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