(4 September – Geneva) The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, met with the Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan in an online meeting. Directly following the meeting, Ms. Bachelet expressed her alarm at the unjust verdict against Mr. Hassan and the repression of peaceful critics throughout the country for simply exercising their fundamental right to free expression:
“Today, I met Egyptian human rights defender Bahey Eldin Hassan virtually. The 15-year prison sentence against him, in absentia, by a terrorism court in Cairo – and verdicts against others who speak up – raise serious concerns about human rights and civic space in Egypt.”
During the meeting Mr. Hassan briefed the High Commissioner on the human rights crises in Egypt and the recent verdict against him issued by the Fifth Terrorism Circuit Court in Cairo. On the 25th of August, Mr. Hassan was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in absentia for exposing the Egyptian government’s human rights violations. Mr. Hassan’s sentencing constitutes a blatant attempt to intimidate him and the broader Egyptian human rights community from continuing their critical work.
Mr. Hassan also highlighted the Egyptian government’s widespread use of torture, arbitrary detention and imprisonment, enforced disappearance, and other grave human rights violations to target thousands of independent human rights defenders, journalists and activists in the country. Such attacks are increasingly accompanied by sham trials that accuse peaceful critics of being engaged in or associated with terrorist activities.
Mr. Hassan also brought attention to the Egyptian government’s systematic reprisals against Egyptian citizens who provide information to the United Nations on human rights violations occurring within the country. Mr. Hassan’s engagement at the UN, including at the Human Rights Council, forms a central pillar of the evidence leading to his 15-year prison sentence.
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