Egypt: Human rights demands requisite to a credible national dialogue accountable to the public

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

Declaring the Egyptian constitution as the basis for the national dialogue necessarily entails that prior to the dialogue, there must be a lifting of the undeclared suspension of the constitution’s rights and liberties provisions, which would render the upholding of constitutional guarantees a reality for tens of millions of Egyptians, assert the undersigned organizations. It does not entail renegotiating these rights and freedoms anew at the dialogue. Accordingly, we propose here a list of baseline demands that must be met before the national dialogue begins. Meeting these demands would foster a political climate conducive to serious dialogue and contribute to rebuilding citizens’ eroded trust in the authorities, state institutions, the constitution, and the rule of law.

These demands are as follows:

  1. Immediately release all prisoners of conscience, whether held in pretrial custody, convicted of spurious charges in presence or in absentia, or detained in security facilities; they should be compensated for the harm sustained by themselves and their families and given immediate, appropriate medical care as required.
  2. Immediately end all forms of torture and ill treatment and refer perpetrators to trial.
  3. Immediately lift security restrictions placed on the activities of political parties, professional syndicates, civic associations, and independent rights organizations, to enable them to operate freely and independently and participate in the dialogue if they so wish.
  4. Put an immediate end to all forms of security censorship on the media. Companies affiliated with the security establishment should cede ownership stakes in the media. Blocks on websites associated with rights organizations and the press must be immediately lifted; and the stifling of critical voices on social media must be ended.
  5. Review the terrorism lists and purge them of political dissidents and persons of conscience who have not committed acts of physical violence.
  6. Lift travel bans and asset freezes imposed on rights defenders and close Case no. 173 of 2011.
  7. Disclose the fate of the forcibly disappeared.
  8. Immediately cease all practices inimical to the very concept of national dialogue, including fabricated charges brought against innocent people in new cases (known as “recycling”), acts of extrajudicial killing in Sinai, and the violent forced displacement of the residents of Warraq Island.

The signatory organizations note that if they are invited to take part in the national dialogue, they could find no one to better represent them than the human rights defenders currently in prison, among them Mohamed al-Baqer,[1] Haitham Mohammedein,[2] Zyad Elelaimy,[3] Alaa Abdel Fattah,[4] Ezzat Ghoneim,[5] and Ibrahim Metwally.[6]

Signatures:

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  2. El Nadim Center
  3. Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
  4. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  5. Massar: Technology and Law Community

[1] A rights lawyer and director of the Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms, Baqer was arrested from the office of the Supreme State Security Prosecution in Cairo while acting in his capacity as a lawyer, attending the interrogation of his client, blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah.
[2] A lawyer and human rights defender, Mohammedein offers pro bono legal assistance to workers; he is a member of the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.
[3] A lawyer and former MP, a founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, and official spokesman for the Revolutionary Youth Coalition and a member of the coalition’s executive bureau.
[4] A blogger and human rights defender, Abdel Fattah was arrested in 2019 and charged with spreading false news and joining a terrorist organization.
[5] A lawyer and rights defender, Ghoneim works to guarantee fair trials and focuses on cases of enforced disappearance. He is the executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.
[6] A lawyer and founding member and coordinator of the League for the Families of the Disappeared.

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