The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) is pleased to announce that Mohamed Zaree, our Egypt Office Director, has been selected as one of three 2017 finalists for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.
In Egypt, human rights defenders and NGOs are under unprecedented attack for speaking out against the government’s policies and practices. In May 2016, Zaree was banned from traveling outside Egypt by order of the investigative judge in Case 173/2011, known as the “Foreign Funding Case against NGOs.” Travel bans are issued without any timeframe and have become “one of the most significant tools of repression in Egypt, aimed at indirectly deterring and intimidating Egyptians, as well as some non-Egyptians, inside and outside of Egypt.” After he was stopped from travelling at Cairo International Airport, Zaree reaffirmed his commitment to advocating for human rights despite the persecution he faces: “I stand in the company of brave, steadfast individuals whose only crime has been to strive for basic freedoms through peaceful means.”
Mr. Zaree maintains the Forum of Independent Egyptian Human Rights NGOs, a network created in 2007 that brings human rights groups together in Egypt. During a period critical to civil society’s survival in Egypt, Mr. Zaree empowered the Forum of Independent Egyptian Human Rights NGOs to collectively have a prevailing impact on vital human rights issues. He has been summoned for interrogation in Case 173/2011, as have at least 28 other NGO founders, directors or staff. He faces charges including “pursuing acts harmful to national peace and security”; “creating or establishing or managing an association or organization without a license”; and receiving foreign funding. If found guilty, Zaree could be sentenced to life imprisonment.
“I am honored to be a finalist for such a prestigious award,” said Zaree, who has been leading CIHRS’ Egypt program since 2011. “The Martin Ennals Award supports human rights defenders at risk by giving international visibility to the serious threats they face daily as they carry out work in their own countries.”
If the travel ban is not lifted, it will prevent Zaree from attending the award ceremony in Geneva this autumn.
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