Arrest and detention of Egyptian human rights lawyers

Who we wrote to

The president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi.

What’s the issue

We’re very concerned about the many arrests, detentions and interrogations of lawyers and human rights defenders in Egypt since April 2016.

We’re especially concerned about the welfare of Malek Adly, head of the lawyers’ network at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR).

We understand that Mr Adly was arrested by security forces on 5 May 2016 and interrogated for several hours. A judge ordered his detention after his interrogation.

Mr Adly has been detained ever since, pending an investigation into criminal charges of:

  • “attempting to overthrow the government”
  • “affiliation to a banned organisation”
  • “broadcasting false news pertaining to a maritime demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia”

Mr Adly has been held in solitary confinement for nearly two months.

His health is steadily in decline as a result of the inhumane conditions of his imprisonment. He urgently needs access to appropriate medical care.

We understand that a lawsuit was filed to improve his conditions in detention, but that his case will not be heard until 5 September 2016.

We believe that his detention cannot continue under these conditions.

We’re also concerned for Negad El-Borai, head of the legal unit at United Group for Law. Mr El-Borai is a founder and president of the Group for Democratic Development and secretary general of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights.

Since May 2015, Mr El-Borai has been repeatedly summoned to be interrogated by a judge.

We understand that on 3 March 2016 Mr El-Borai was arrested, released and charged with:

  • “establishing an unlicensed entity”
  • “receiving illegal funds”
  • “deliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest”

These charges relate to his work on the drafting of an anti-torture law that aims to bring Egyptian domestic law in line with the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

These cases illustrate the crackdown on civil society and the criminalisation of work relating to anti-torture legislation in Egypt.

We’re greatly concerned, as there has been an increase in reported cases of torture, deaths in detention and disappearances of lawyers and human rights defenders in Egypt.

What we asked for

We asked the relevant Egyptian authorities to:

  • put an end to all acts of harassment and intimidation against Mr Adly, Mr El-Borai and other lawyers and human rights defenders in Egypt
  • immediately and unconditionally withdraw all charges against Mr Adly and Mr El-Borai
  • immediately release Mr Adly from prison and, until his release, make sure that he’s detained in humane conditions, with access to medical care and visitation rights

Timeline

March 2015 – Mr Adly takes part in a peaceful protest outside the Office of the General Prosecutor in Cairo against the alleged torture of their colleague, Karim Hamdy

April 2015 – Mr Adly and five other lawyers were summoned for interrogation in connection with the peaceful protest

May 2015 – Mr El-Borai has been repeatedly summoned to appear before a judge to be interrogated

March 2016 – Mr El-Borai was arrested, released and charged

May 2016 – Mr Adly was arrested, interrogated and detained pending investigation