Egypt : Judicial harassment and sentencing of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry

20/02/2015
Urgent Appeal
ar en

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued judicial harassment and 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, support activities for political prisoners and using social media to denounce human rights violations.

New information
EGY 001 / 0514 / OBS 045.5
Sentencing / Judicial harassment /
Repression of peaceful protest
Egypt
February 20, 2015

— 

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.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the continued judicial harassment and 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, support activities for political prisoners and using social media to denounce human rights violations.

According to the information received, on February 9, 2015, El Raml Misdemeanour Court in Alexandria sentenced Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, together with another lawyer Amr Abu Elkhair and eight activists to two years in jail.

The defendants were accused of storming the Raml police station in Alexandria and assaulting police officers as well as torching the Freedom and justice party headquarters, political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in March 2013. Ms. Mahienour El-Massry is not currently detained pending appeal as a LE 5,000 (approximately EUR 580) bail was paid. Ms. Mahienour El-Massry has filed a demurrer to challenge the abovementioned sentence.

The present decision follows a series of hearings held on May 8, July 21, October 13 and November 17, 2014 (see background information below).

The Observatory condemns the sentencing of Ms. Mahienour El-Masry and calls upon the Egyptian authorities to drop all charges against her as they are clearly aimed at hindering her peaceful human rights activities.

Background information:

On January 2, 2014, Alexandria Manshiya Misdemeanour Court sentenced in absentia Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and seven members of the political group “Revolutionary Socialists” [1], including human rights lawyer Mr. Hassan Mustafa [2], to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of EGP 50,000 for “protesting without a permit” and “assaulting security forces” following their participation in a peaceful protest on December 2, 2013 to denounce police violence and in particular the impunity of Khaled Saeed murder. Khaled Saeed was killed by police forces on June 6, 2010 and subsequently became a symbol of police repression during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Ms. Mahienour El-Massry had failed to appear as she had not been informed in advance of the date of the hearing.

On May 20, 2014, the Sidi Gaber Misdemeanour Court in Alexandria rejected the demurrer filed by Ms. Mahienour El-Massry regarding the sentence issued against her in absentia. Ms. Mahienour El-Massry was immediately detained following the hearing.

On May 22, 2014, defence lawyers of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry filed a complaint against the decision to schedule the appeal hearing on June 26, 2014, arguing that the appeal date was too far away in violation of criminal law procedural provisions. The request was rejected by the court.

On May 22, 2014, the Egyptian security forces violently repressed participants to a solidarity march organised outside of the headquarters of Egyptian Center for Economic & Social Rights (ECESR) in Alexandria, following a press conference organised to express support with Ms. Mahienour El-Massry. Several female protesters were sexually harassed by security forces. Some protesters were beaten and arrested by the police. After the march, security forces stormed into ECESR’s headquarters, smashed some of its equipment and arrested several employees.

On July 20, after successive adjournments, the Sidi Gaber Appeal Misdemeanour Court in Alexandria sentenced Ms. Mahienour El-Massry to six months of prison and a fine of EGP 50,000 (approximately EUR 5,143) for “protesting without a permit” and “assaulting security forces”. Ms. Mahienour El-Massry’s lawyers appealed the sentence before the Court of Cassation.

On September 21, the demurrer was accepted and Al Mansheya Misdemeanour Appeals Court decided to suspend the execution of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry’s six-month prison sentence, pending the appeal lodged before the Court of Cassation. This decision followed a request filed by Ms. Mahienour El-Massry’s lawyers challenging the execution of her sentence pending a final outcome.

Moreover, Ms. El-Massry is also facing trial on separate charges for an incident that occurred in March 2013. In a separate incident, on May 8, 2014, Ms. El-Massry was referred to court on charges of “assaulting security forces” after, in March 2013, 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 “Raml police station” case). 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. The trial was then postponed several times following the resignation of the appointed judge from the bench. The case was heard on July 21, 2014 and then postponed to October 13 and November 17, 2014.

On November 17, 2014, the Raml Misdemeanour Court held a hearing in the “Raml police station” criminal case. The court heard three testimonies provided by witnesses presented by the defence. The defence additionally requested the court to summon the persons who filed the complaint against Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, and to include the administrative police case report. The Court then adjourned the hearing until December 8.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Drop all charges against Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, as they are clearly aimed at hindering her peaceful human rights activities, and immediately and unconditionally release Amr Abu Elkhair and other eight human rights defenders after dropping all charges against them as well;

ii. 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;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of 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 adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General
Assembly, 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. Mahfouz 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: egyptembassy@embassyofegypt.be

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

Paris-Geneva, February 20, 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.

Read more
appelobs