Standing before the Administrative Court on August 26, 2017, human rights defenders appealed the renewal of investigative Judge Hisham Abdel Megid’s appointment in Case no. 173 of 2011, known as the Foreign Funding Case against independent human rights organizations. The Cairo Appellate Court’s decision to renew the judge’s appointment contravenes the rule of law and undermines the guarantees of a free and fair trial, representing yet another of the many egregious legal and procedural violations marring this case for over half a decade since its commencement.
Judge Abdel-Megid was originally assigned to the Foreign Funding Case in December 2014, rendering his continued assignment to the case nearly three years later in clear contravention of Article 66 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which limits an investigative judge’s appointment term to no more than six months with the option of only one additional 6-month renewal. This means that Abdel-Megid has been presiding over this case without a legal or judicial mandate for at least two years. During his unlawful tenure, he issued dozens of illegal rulings including travel bans and asset freezes, in addition to issuing a subpoena for human rights defender Azza Soliman. No further evidence is needed of the Appellate Court’s impartiality than its persistence in extending– long after its legal expiry – the appointment of a judge so unashamedly hostile to the human rights defenders he is investigating in connection to the case.
Since Judge Abdel Megid’s mandate legally ended two years ago, all actions and decisions taken by him during that time are invalid. The intent of Article 66 is to prevent prolonged litigation, particularly the prolongation of penalties imposed during the investigation; namely travel bans and asset freezes. By prolonging the judge’s appointment nearly three times the legally proscribed limit, penalties imposed upon the human rights defenders charged in the case have also been prolonged indefinitely. Hossam Eldin Ali and Ahmed Ghunaim have been banned from traveling for nearly three years without investigation, while Bahey Eldin Hassan and Gamal Eid have had their assets frozen for over a year.
One of the defendants in the case, Mohamed Zaree of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) submitted a request to the President of the Appellate Court in Cairo on May 22nd of this year to obtain copies of the decisions to appoint Judge Abdel Megid and the grounds for these appointments. Zaree also requested copies of the memos that – by law – the judge is required to submit in order to request the renewal of his mandate and explain why he could not finish the investigation on time. Zaree’s request was referred by Cairo’s Appellate Court to the investigative judge, who rejected it without providing rationale.
The entire investigative process of the Foreign Funding Case has thus far been devoid of any semblance of due process; inimical to the criteria for independent and transparent investigations to which Egypt claims to adhere. The state’s resolve in flouting the rule of law to ensure Judge Abdel Megid’s indefinite assignment to the case, and by consequence, the indefinite prolongation of penalties on rights defenders – clearly exposes the state’s retributive campaign against those who seek to hold it accountable for human rights violations.
– Bahey Eldin Hassan
– Gamal Eid
– Aida Seif El-Dawla
– Azza Soliman
– Mohamed Ahmed Zaree
– Mazn Hassan
– Mostafa Elhassan
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