On the anniversary of Black Wednesday: The African Union decides to investigate the crimes of referendum day &The Egyptian government faces nine charges

In African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights by

Today, on the first anniversary of the attacks made on referendum day, 24 Egyptian NGOs announced that the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights, of the African Union, has decided to take on the lawsuit that organizations have raised against the Egyptian government over the physical and sexual harassment a number of female journalists and political activists who were subjected to on “Black Wednesday,” 25 May 2005.

Civil society organizations decided to resort to regional and international human rights mechanisms after the public prosecutor decided last December to suspend investigations of claims made by female activists and journalists under the pretext of not being able to identify the perpetrators. This decision was supported by the Appellate Court last February, meaning that all domestic forms of litigation have been exhausted. This allowed the African Commission to begin investigating the case.

The lawsuit (Number 323 of Year 2006) submitted on behalf of four of the female journalists and activists who were assaulted include nine charges made against the Egyptian government for violating the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Egyptian government ratified this charter and became accountable to it on 20 March 1984, it thus becoming part of Egyptian law. The nine charges include the targeting of the female activists and journalists with sexual and physical violence (Article 2), and the violation of their right to equal legal protection (Article 3), their right to dignity and not being subjected to cruel or humiliating treatment (Article 5), their right to a fair and effective trial (Article 7, Paragraph 1A), their right to the freedom of expression (Article 9, Paragraph 2), their right to peaceful assembly (Paragraph 11), and their right to mental and physical wellbeing (Article 16), as well as the state’s shortcoming in its responsibility to protect women from violence (Article 18, Paragraph 3) and guarantee of the public prosecutor’s independence (Article 26).

In accordance with the statutes of the African Commission, which consists of 11 experts, both the Egyptian government and the civil society organizations that submitted the complaint in cooperation with the British-based International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights, (Interights), will be granted an opportunity to submit legal memorandums concerning the lawsuit before the Commission begins to examine it during its next session in November.

The Egyptian civil society organizations are committed to continue efforts to keep the file on the disgraceful assaults of Black Wednesday open until the government acknowledges its liability, the perpetrators are identified and punished, and the assault victims are compensated.






Signatory organizations

1. The Arab Program for Human Rights Activists.
2. The Egyptian Association against Torture.
3. The Egyptian Association for Supporting Democratic Development.
4. The Egyptian association for community participation enhancement..
5. The Arab Network for Human Rights Information.
6. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
7. The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights.
8. The Arab Organization for Penal Reform.
9. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
10. The Association for Democracy Development.
11. The Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners.
12. The Association for Human Rights Legal Aid.
13. Shumuu Association for Humanitarian Rights, Careful Disabled People and Developing Local Community.
14. Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti Violence Studies.
15. Habi Center for Environmental Rights.
16. Al-Nadim Center for the Psychological Therapy and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.
17. Center for Alternative Development Studies.
18. The Kalima Center for Human Rights.
19. Hisham Mubarak Center for Law.
20. The Freedom of Thought and Expression Organization.
21. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
22. Land Center for Human Rights.
23. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance.
24. The New Woman Research Center.

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