Law Society calls on Egyptian government to release detained lawyer Mohamed El Baqer

The Egyptian lawyer Mohamed El Baqer has spent the past two years in pre-trial detention without having been charged, or the proceedings against him starting. We're urging Egyptian authorities to release him immediately.

Mohamed el-Baqer

What's the issue

The Egyptian lawyer Mohamed El Baqer has spent the past two years in pre-trial detention without having been charged or proceedings against him having commenced.

Two years is the maximum term for pre-trial detention in Egypt.

What we asked for

We're urging Egyptian authorities to release Mohamed el Baqer immediately.

Timeline

29 September 2019 – El-Baqer was arrested at the State Security Prosecution premises while attending an investigation session with a client.

Background

El Baqer was recently selected as a finalist for the UIA/Lexis Nexis Rule of Law award after having been nominated by the Law Society. The UIA said in a statement that he “consistently demonstrated unrelenting dedication and commitment to upholding the Rule of Law and human rights, despite overwhelming personal and professional hardships, including great risk to [his] personal safety”.

Egyptian lawyer Yasmin Omar from the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy is a colleague and friend of El Baqer. She supported his nomination with the following statement:

“I practiced law in Egypt for ten years before I moved to the US. I’ve known Mohamed and worked closely with him on many cases. I have witnessed his dedication to the legal profession and his commitment to rule of law. Egypt has been targeting human rights lawyers in the last five years. Lawyers have faced arbitrary detention, forced disappearance, torture, ill treatment and harassment. Mohamed wasn’t foreign to the fact that he might be the next victim. However, this did not intimidate him from continuing to perform his duty towards his clients. On 19 September 2019, he was representing his client before the state security prosecution when he was told that he was a defendant in the same case. His arrest symbolises everything that is happening to Egyptian human rights lawyers.

He was arrested while wearing the black robe and was working until the last minute of his freedom. Knowing about the danger, knowing the price he might pay. Human rights lawyers like me choose to live in exile, others chose to quit the practice to not face the price that we might pay for our work for human rights. But Mohamed insisted to continue to work even in this intimidating environment. Mohamed is currently in a dark cell at the notorious Tora prison. He has been in pre-trial detention without trial for two years, denied seeing his son, denied exercising times, reading books or to receive any letters. Not only that, but Mohamed was added to the terrorist list, a decision that could lead him to be disbarred from the Egyptian bar association, denying him the right to practice the profession he is most passionate about.

Mohamed is not just a great lawyer, but a family man who lost his dad just a few months after he was detained. He didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. Mohamed who loves his wife and cats more than anything hasn’t been in his warm house in two years. Mohamed is also a brave friend who would defend and help his colleagues and push them to become better. This nomination is not just a message to the world to let them know that committing to the rule of law would not go unnoticed, but also a message to Mohamed that he desperately needs to survive the injustice he is facing. It’s a message to his wife to continue her advocacy for her husband and to see him released one day.

Thank you so much from Mohamed El Baqer, from tens of Egyptian lawyers who are facing repression in prisons and from me. Thank you for supporting and for your solidarity and efforts to uphold the rule of law.”

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