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Egypt
27.09.17
Urgent Interventions

Attempt of closure by Egyptian authorities of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF).

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Closureattempt

Egypt
September 27, 2017

The Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation AgainstTorture (OMCT) and the FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Egypt.

Descriptionof the situation:

The Observatory has beeninformed by reliable sources about the attempt of closure by Egyptian authoritiesof theEgyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)[1].


According to theinformation received, on September 20, 2017, a committee from the InvestmentAuthority, accompanied by National Security officers and a police van, entered ECRF’sheadquarters office in Cairo, claiming to hold a warrant to close down theorganisation and attempted to put a wax seal on the office’s door on groundsthat remain unknown. No warrant was effectively presented.

Lawyers present at the officerejected these claims and prevented the closure arguing that it would beillegal since ECRF is a law firm operating in accordance with nationallegislation[2].Nonetheless, the committee threatened to come again.

In October 2016, another committeefrom the Investment Authority had made a similar unannounced visit and searchedECRF’s premises.

This unannounced raid and closingattempt occurs several days after the Egyptian government blocked ECRF’swebsite on September 5, 2017, and one month after the publication of ECRF’sreport on enforced disappearances in Egypt. The report documented 378 cases ofenforced disappearances between August 2016 and August 2017, and labelled theEgyptian security apparatuses as the main actor to be held accountable forthese grave human rights violations.

It is worth mentioning that ECRF islegally supporting and advising Giulio Regeni’s family members in theinvestigation of Giulio Regeni’s enforced disappearance followed by death in2016[3]and was due to receive them soon.

Moreover, this closing attempt followsthe abduction and arbitrary detention of human rights defender Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy[4], Coordinator of the Association of the Families ofVictims of Enforced Disappearances in Egypt, an association that ECRF supportswith legal advice. Mr. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy also reportedly provided legalassistance to Giulio Regeni’s family.

TheObservatory recalls that this is not the first time ECRF is targeted by theEgyptian authorities. Several members of ECRF have been arrested and subjectedto ill-treatment. Founder and executive director of ECRFMohamed Lotfy was arrested on June 2, 2015 and was put under atravel ban for security reasons [5], co-founderof ECRF Ahmed Abdullah was arrested on April 25, 2016 and released on bail onSeptember 10, 2016, and minority rights expert Mina Thabetwas arrested on May 19, and released on bail on June 18, 2016.

The Observatoryexpresses its utmost concerns over the attempt of closure of ECRF, as itappeared to be linked with its legal work in Giulio Regeni’s case, andconsequently urges the Egyptian authorities to put an end to all acts ofharassment against ECRF and its members.

This attemptof closure is part of the crackdown of Egyptian authorities against civilsociety in the country, imposing harsh restrictions on the right to peacefulassembly and freedom of expression and repeatedly trying to shut downseveral human rights organisations[6].

Actionsrequested:

Please write to theauthorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at thejudicial level, against ECRF and its members, as well as against all humanrights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Refrain from further hindering the right to freedom ofassociation, peaceful assembly and expression in Egypt;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UNDeclaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of theUnited Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2; and

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances therespect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional humanrights instruments ratified by Egypt.


Addresses:

· President of the Arab Republic of Egypt,H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 2391 1441
Email:
p.spokesman@op.gov.eg, Twitter:@AlsisiOfficial
· Prime Minister, Mr. Sherif Ismail. Fax: +202 2735 6449 / 27958016.

· Minister of the Interior, Mr.Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 2794 5529

· Ministerof Justice, Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103

· Ministerof Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly, Fax: +202 3337 5390
· Public Prosecutor, Counsellor NabeelSadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
· Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of theNational Council For Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email:
nchr@nchr.org.eg

· H.E.Mr. Amr Ramadan, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nationsin Geneva, Email: mission.egypt@ties.itu.int, Fax: +41 22 738 44 15

· Embassyof Egypt in Brussels, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in yourrespective country.

***

Geneva-Paris, September27, 2017

Kindly inform us of anyaction undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by theWorld Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the FIDH. The objective of this programmeis to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against humanrights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, theEuropean Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by internationalcivil society.

To contact the Observatory, call theemergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80


[1] Egyptian human rights lawfirm based in Cairo, which workspeacefully in several governorates to defend human rights in Egypt.

[2] ECRF includes several law firms and therefore cannotbe closed by the Investment Authority.

[3] Giulio Regeni was an Italian graduate who was abductedand tortured to death in Egypt in 2016. See OMCT’s press release “A year afterRegeni’s death, still no justice or steps to end torture in Egypt”, issued onJanuary 25, 2017.

[4] See the Observatory’s Urgent Appeal EGY 003 / 0917 / OBS 099.1, issued on September 22,2017.

[5] See the Observatory’s Urgent Appeal EGY 002 / 0615 / OBS 047issued on June 4, 2015.

[6] See the Joint Statement:“Egypt: Civil society faces existential threat”, issued on June 22, 2016.

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