Egypt: Press Release by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders on the Appeal Verdict in the Case of Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif


The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Ms Reine Alapini-Gansou, has been informed of the sentence handed down on appeal against human rights defenders Yara SallamSanaa Seif and 21 other co-accused on Sunday, 28 December 2014, in the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The Special Rapporteur condemns the sentence which runs completely counter to the principles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), and other regional and international instruments duly ratified by Egypt.

The Special Rapporteur considers that the judgement on appeal was delivered in violation of the fundamental rights of these human rights defenders, who were prosecuted for expressing their right to freedom of expression and assembly, as provided for in Articles 6, 7, 9 and 11 of the African Charter.

The Special Rapporteur is deeply concerned about the impact of the determination to punish and silence civil society actors who were raising awareness on the general human rights situation in Egypt, which is known to have worsened in recent years.

The Special Rapporteur calls upon the Government of Egypt to take the necessary measures towards the release of these human rights defenders, and to implement policies and enact laws that are in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Kigali Declaration, the Grand Bay Declaration and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

The Special Rapporteur reiterates the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ calls from previous press releases and urgent appeals concerning this case.

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Ms Reine Alapini-Gansou further encourages the Egyptian authorities to work relentlessly to promote an enabling environment for the enjoyment of fundamental rights for all, and to create a reprisal-free environment for human rights defenders in Egypt.                                                            

Banjul, 7 January 2015