Urgent Appeal: Egypt: National and International Human Rights Organizations are Under Attack
Egyptian security forces, in uniform and in civilian clothes, and public prosecutors have stormed the offices of: Arab Center for Independence of Justice and Legal Professions (ACIJP) (Egyptian NGO), The Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory (Egyptian NGO), The National Democratic Institute (NDI) (the Cairo and Assuit office) (an American organization with an office in Egypt), the International Republic Institute (IRI) (an American organization with an office in Egypt) and Freedom House (an American organization with an office in Egypt). The staff members of these organizations are currently being investigated by the public prosecutors inside the location of their offices. Police forces are searching their papers, laptops and computers.
Staff members of the five organizations have been warned from using their cell phones, laptops and computers; and are being isolated from contact with the outside world. Additionally, with regards to the ACIJP office at least, authorities restricted access to the entire building, preventing people from entering or exiting the building.
It should be mentioned that storming these offices is related to the campaign lead by the Supreme Council for Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Egyptian government starting from June 2011 against civil society organizations and more specifically human rights groups in Egypt.
The NDI, IRI, and Freedom House have been previously investigated by the ministry of justice on charges of receiving foreign funding, while the Arab Center for the Independence of Justice and Legal Professions has not been yet investigated.Investigation for the Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory was due to start next Sunday, January 1, 2012.
The storming of NGO offices is an unprecedented move in the recent history of Egyptian NGOs. In February 2011, during the 18 days Egyptian revolution, Military Police have stormed the office of Hisham Mubarak Law Center (an Egyptian NGO based in Cairo) and arrested several of its members as well as staff members of other international organizations that were present at the scene.
For more information about the legal and defamation campaign against human rights NGOs, see the links below and read the attached urgent appeal sent by Egyptian NGOs in August to the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, the Rights to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
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