Charges against Egyptian lawyer and human rights defender

Who we wrote to

The president of Egypt.

What’s the issue

We’re concerned about charges brought against Azza Soliman by the Egyptian authorities.

Ms Soliman is a lawyer and human rights defender in Egypt. She co-founded Lawyers for Peace and Justice, a non-governmental organisation which provides legal assistance to victims of human rights violations.

Ms Soliman also co-founded the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance which provides legal aid and support to women who are victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

On 7 December 2016, police officers presented Ms Soliman with an arrest warrant at her house, issued by the judge in ‘case 173’ concerning the investigation of foreign funding of Egyptian human rights NGOs.

We understand that since 2013, at least 66 human rights defenders and NGO staff have been summoned or investigated as part of ‘case 173’ for allegedly “receiving foreign funding to harm Egyptian national security” as defined under Article 78 of the Penal Code. This charge could carry a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.

Judges have also ordered travel bans against at least 31 human rights defenders in ‘case 173’, including Ms Soliman, and have frozen the assets of at least 16 individuals and seven NGOs.

What we asked for

In light of Egypt’s international legal obligations, we urge the Egyptian authorities to:

  • withdraw all charges against Ms Soliman and lift the asset freeze and travel ban imposed on her
  • lift the asset freeze and any other restrictions on Lawyers for Peace and Justice and the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance
  • stop all acts of intimidation and harassment against Ms Soliman that prevent her from carrying out her professional duties

We’ll continue to monitor Ms Soliman’s situation, and that of other lawyers and human rights defenders in Egypt.

Timeline

7 December 2016 – Azuz Soliman arrested in connection with case 173 concerning the investigation of foreign funding of Egyptian human rights NGOs. She was later released on bail

23 April 2020 – hearing of case 173 scheduled

24 April 2020 – we wrote to the president of Egypt