URGENT APPEAL ON BEHALF OF EGYPTIAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Office of the President
Al Ittihadia Palace
Fax: +202 2 391 1441
31 March 2016
We, the undersigned, hereby express our serious concerns on the various measures being taken by the government that threaten legitimate organisations which have a long track record of defending human rights in Egypt.
· the summoning and threatened arrest and prosecution of staff of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Nazra for Feminist Studies and the United Group for judicial questioning in relation to ‘foreign funding’ under CASE 173/11;
· the arbitrariness of the summon of Mozn Hassan , Director of Nazra for Feminist Studies while she was accompanying her staff to the hearing; thus making her the first head of an NGO to face the court on 29 March 2016 and could be arrested and detained if found ‘guilty’;
· the arbitrary and unlawful travel bans and threats to freeze the assets of Gamal Eid, the Director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, and Hosam Bahgat, the founder and a Board member of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights;
· the closure of the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
· the raid and investigation of other leading national NGOs, including the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights and the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre;
· accusation against leading international human rights NGO, Human Rights Watch, of 'promoting', 'supporting' and 'endorsing' terrorism and terrorist operations; and
· the imprisonment of leading women human rights defenders and others involved in exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
The latest measures of summoning and threatened arrests, travel bans and freezing of assets by the investigating committee were reportedly done in total secrecy; for instance, they refused the lawyers and those being investigated to see the case files or disclose the nature and details of the allegations under investigation.
The groups being subjected to this unprecedented harassment are all registered under the relevant Egyptian laws and operate transparently and in compliance with laws pertaining to any funding they receive. All transfers to these organizations have been performed through the banking sector under the control of the Central Bank authority. None of these NGOs generate profit since they depend on donations only.
This latest pattern of repression came in the aftermath of criticisms on the government’s human rights record by the European Parliament and after a joint statement to the UN High Commission for Human Rights by Egyptian human rights groups on the same. The timing of the measures taken suggests that these are in retaliation for the groups’ exposure of the dismal state of human rights in Egypt to these legitimate human rights bodies abroad.
We are appealing to your honourable office to
1. Immediately stop the ongoing investigation of independent human rights organisations in relation to their legitimate exercise of their activities and to close the “foreign funding” case once and for all.
2. Set into motion the drafting of the new Associations Law with NGO participation and one that is in compliance with Article 75 of the Egyptian Constitution, which states that “citizens have the right to form non-governmental organizations and institutions on a democratic basis, which shall acquire legal personality upon notification.” In the meantime, NGOs would be given a grace period of one year to register under this new associations law.
3. Withdraw the administrative decision to close down the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence.
4. Lift the travel bans and the freezing of assets that were arbitrarily ordered against human rights defenders.
5. Terminate the cases against Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid, who by international standards have clearly not committed any crime and reverse the freezing of their assets and those of their family members.
6. Set aside the conviction of or issue a decree pardoning all Egyptian and foreign NGO staff convicted in the 2012 foreign funding case.
Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights
Mahy Hassan Abdel Latif
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Corniche al-Nil, Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +202 2574 9713
1. Fatou Sow, International Director, Women Living Under Muslim Laws, International Solidarity Network, United Kingdom
2. Farida Shaheed, Executive Director, Shirkat Gah - Women's Resource Centre, Pakistan
3. Sally Armstrong, Journalist, Canada
4. Fenna ten Berge, Research Fellow Muslims for Progressive Values / Director MPV Nederland, The Netherlands
5. Noorjahan Akbar, Founder of Free Women Writers, Afghanistan
6. Marième Hélie Lucas, Coordinator of Secularism Is A women's Issue (SIAWI), France
7. Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of One Law for All and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Producer of Bread and Roses TV, United Kingdom
8. Ariane Brunet, Co-founder of the Urgent Action Fund for Women Human Rights, Canada
9. Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun, Emerita Professor, University Paris Diderot, France
10. Ahmed Abbes, Directeur de recherche au Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France
11. Lalia Ducos, Militante Associative, Women's Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights (WICUR), France
12. Codou Bop, Coordinatrice, Groupe de recherche sur les femmes et les lois au Sénégal (GREFELS), Sénégal
13. Sherna Berger Gluck, Emerita Faculty, Department of History and Program in Women's Studies, California State University, Long Beach, USA
14. Amina Mama, Planning Director, Feminist Research Institute, Professor, Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies, University of California at Davis, Editor of Feminist Africa
15. Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana at Legon, Ghana
16. Yewande Omotoso, Writer, South Africa
17. Paola Bacchetta, Associate Professor, Department of Gender and Women's Studies, University of California at Berkeley, USA
18. Fatma Emam, Freelance translator and researcher, Egypt
19. Gita Sen, General Coordinator, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Global/Fiji.
20. Fahima Hashim, Salmmah Women's Resource Centre, Sudan
21. Center for Women's Global Leadership, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA
22. Diane Lamoureux, Professeure titulaire, Département de Science politique, Université Laval, Canada
23. Dorothy Hodgson, Professor, Rutgers University, USA
24. Bonnie Campbell, Professor, University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada
25. Zarizana Abdul Aziz, Due Diligence Project, Malaysia
26. Terry Moon, Managing Editor, News & Letters, News and Letters Committees, United States
27. Saira Zuberi, Independent Women’s Rights Advocate, Istanbul, Turkey
28. Meredith Tax, Chair, Centre for Secular Space, United Kingdom
29. Syed A Gilani, Spokesperson, Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan, Pakistan
30. Rashida Manjoo, South Africa
31. Shadi Sadr, Executive Director, Justice for Iran
32. Lin Chew, Executive Director, Institute for Women's Empowerment (IWE), Hong Kong
33. Emília Novo, Institute for Women's Empowerment (IWE), Hong Kong
34. Faizun Zackariya, Citizen's Voice for Peace and Justice, Sri Lanka
35. Gita Sahgal, Center for Secular Space, United Kingdom
36. Fahima Hashim, Salmmah Women's Resource Centre, Sudan
37. Yosra Akasha, Blogger, Sudan
38. Adegbeye Olutimehin, Contributor, Olisa.TV, Nigeria
39. Zarin Hamid, Center for Women's Global Leadership, Rutgers University, USA
40. Nadje Al-Ali, Professor of Gender Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London, United Kingdom
41. PATENT Association Hungary (Association of People Opposing Patriarchy), Hungary
42. Puspa Dewi, Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia
43. Mary Small, Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women & Children (GAMCOTRAP), The Gambia
44. Yasmin Rehman, Center for Secular Space, United Kingdom
45. Anne Hugon, Professeure d’Histoire, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France
46. Amie Sissoho, Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women & Children (GAMCOTRAP), The Gambia
47. Amie Joof, Director, Inter-Africa Network for Women, Media, Gender and Development (FAMEDEV), Senegal
48. Zeinabou Hadari, Directrice, Centre Reines Daura, Niger,
49. Samia Allalou, Women's Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights (WICUR), France
50. Matidah Daffeh, The Girl’s Agenda, The Gambia
51. Djingarey Maiga, Directrice, Femmes et droits humains, Mali
52. Fatou Bojang, Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women & Children (GAMCOTRAP), The Gambia
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