Egypt: Government should stop treating human rights defenders as hostages while negotiating US military aid and put an end to a decade of security and judicial prosecutions against them

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

The undersigned organizations call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and completely dismiss Case no. 173 of 2011, the part targeting Egyptian human rights organizations. The undersigned urge the authorities to stop fabricating additional charges against human rights defenders and organizations.

With the case now ongoing for over a decade, the Egyptian authorities have admitted to fabricating accusations against several human rights organizations in the case. Three days ago, following this confession, the investigative judge in the case declared that there were no grounds to file a lawsuit against four human rights organizations, and decided to remove the names of the human rights defenders affiliated with these organizations from the lists for travel bans and asset seizures.

Yet despite this development, investigations are still underway for these same rights defenders and others, before a committee formed by the same investigative judge, to examine their tax files and that of their organizations. It was further decided to open criminal investigations against the same defenders, related to their right to free expression, with a potential charge of “spreading false news.” False accusations are oft-used by investigative authorities to unlawfully prosecute and detain thousands of Egyptians.

It is imperative that Case no. 173 of 2011 be completely closed, and all decisions resulting from it suspended. It is necessary for the Egyptian government to voice an appropriate apology to the Egyptian human rights defenders for the suffering they have incurred as a result of the decade-long  prosecution of this case; over which time the defendants have faced and continue to face false and malicious accusations, travel bans and asset freezes, and relentless media campaigns against them.

In this context, a serious investigation must be opened against all parties involved in falsifying accusations, which have been deployed as political vengeance against the human rights defenders for a decade. Vast material and human resources were harnessed from the state’s resources, and judicial, security, media and diplomatic bodies were misused to serve and further this politicized retaliatory campaign founded upon false pretences.

The undersigned organizations call for the immediate release of all human rights defenders detained on false charges, and subjected to enforced disappearance and torture. Furthermore,  it is necessary to drop every prison sentence issued in absentia following politicized trials against Egyptian human rights defenders abroad. The Egyptian state should also release and drop charges against the thousands of innocent Egyptians trapped in prisons, who have been victimized by the state’s abusive and unjust policies and practices against those perceived as opposed to its authoritarian rule.

The Egyptian government should also stop treating human rights defenders as hostages or as simply numbers on paper for negotiations with the US Biden administration on annual military aid.

Signatory Organizations:

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  2. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  3. Committee for Justice
  4. Sinai Foundation for Human Right
  5. The freedom Initiative
  6. Egyptian Human Right Forum

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