Harassment of human rights lawyer in Egypt

Who we wrote to

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

What’s the issue

We’re concerned about acts of harassment against Azza Soliman, a human rights lawyer and founder of the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA).

We understand that on 19 November 2016, Ms Soliman was prevented from leaving Egypt through Cairo Airport. Her personal assets and those of CEWLA were frozen.

On 7 December 2016, a judge issued a warrant for her arrest and she was taken to Masr el Gedida police station.

We’re also aware that she was later brought before an investigative judge, but it was unclear at that stage what charges had been brought against her.

Ms Soliman was bailed pending investigation for her alleged involvement in receiving illegal foreign funding “with the aim of harming national security, founding an illegal entity engaging in NGO activities and tax evasion”.

On 12 December 2016, a hearing took place and Ms Soliman brought evidence to counteract those allegations.

It’s been reported that the court’s ruling was postponed until 11 January 2017.

We’re alarmed that these actions can be construed to be acts of judicial harassment, directed at Ms Soliman because of her work as a human rights lawyer.

What we asked for

We urged the Egyptian authorities to:

  • put an end to all acts of harassment and intimidation against Ms Soliman
  • withdraw all charges against Ms Soliman
  • provide a safe environment for lawyers and human rights defenders to work in without fear of intimidation, threat of attack or harassment, prosecution or unlawful detention

Timeline

November 2016 – Ms Soliman was prevented from leaving Egypt and her assets were frozen

December 2016 – Ms Soliman was arrested, detained and bailed pending investigation. A hearing took place, but the court’s ruling was postponed

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