EGY001 / 0514 / OBS 045.9
September 8, 2016
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, apartnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention inthe following situation in Egypt.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sourcesabout the release of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, a human rights lawyer known for her activism in favour ofjudicial independence and prisoners' rights by organising peaceful protests,support activities for political prisoners and using social media to denouncehuman rights violations, and Mr. Youssef Shaban, a journalist anddefender of workers' rights. Both had been sentenced on May 31, 2015 to oneyear and three months’ imprisonment (see background information).
According to the information received, on August 13, 2016, Ms. MahienourEl-Massry and Mr. YoussefShaban were transferred to National Security Agency facilities. They were heldin police trucks during a few hours before being able to finalise their releaseprocedures before the Alexandria prosecution. They were transferred back to thepolice station before their release in the evening. The two had been sentenced in2015 within the framework of the “Raml policestation” case (see backgroundinformation).
The Observatory welcomes the release of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and Mr. Youssef Shaban butcondemns the judicial harassment they have been subjected to for more than twoyears as it was clearly aimed at hindering their peaceful human rightsactivities.
Moreover, the Observatory recalls Ms. Mahienour El-Massry still facesother charges in the “Khaled Saeed Demonstration Case”, as she awaits a Courtof Cassation decision following her acquittal (see background information). TheObservatory also deplores the ongoing detention of Mr. Loay Mohamed AbdelRahman, an independent youth activist, in relation with the same case.
The Observatory has no information regarding possible travel bansimposed on Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and Mr. Youssef Shaban, as in most cases,human rights defenders are not informed in advance until they attempt to travelabroad.
Accordingly,the Observatory calls upon the Egyptian authorities to put an end to theharassment against Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and Mr.Youssef Shaban as well as against all human rights defenders in Egypt, and torelease Mr. Loay Mohamed Abdel Rahman immediately and unconditionally since hisdetention is arbitrary as it merely aims at sanctioning his human rightsactivities. The Observatory reminds in particularthat the restrictive Protest Law, which bans gatherings of ten or more peoplewithout a permit issued by the authorities, has been repeatedly used by theauthorities as a tool to harass and imprison human rights defenders.
On May 8, 2014, Ms. Mahienour El-Massry was referred to court on chargesof “assaulting security forces” after she, other lawyers and human rightsactivists including Messrs. Youssef Shabaan and Loay Mohamed Abdel Rahman, wentto Raml police station in March 2013 to provide legal assistance to threelawyers who were arrested and sent to the police by supporters of the MuslimBrotherhood (the “Raml police station” case). The lawyers were attacked by thepolice in the police station, and Ms. El-Massry was detained briefly before theProsecution decided to release her and the others. The trial was then postponedseveral times following the resignation of the appointed judge from the bench.
On February 9, 2015, El Raml Misdemeanour Courtin Alexandria sentenced Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, Messrs. Youssef Shabaan andLoay Mohamed Abdel Rahman as well as seven other activiststo two years in jail. The sentence was suspended upon payment of a 5,000Egyptian Pounds bail (approximately 580 euros) per person. Ms. MahienourEl-Massry filed a demurrer to challenge the abovementioned sentence.
On May 11, 2015, El Raml Misdemeanour Courtof Appeal in Alexandria heard the appeal of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, Mr. Youssef Shaban and Mr. LoayMohamed Abdel Rahman, along with seven other activists. On that occasion, thecourt ordered the remand in custody of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry and Mr. YoussefShaban. As for Mr. Loay Mohamed Abdel Rahman, he was already arbitrarilyimprisoned for another case.
On May 31, 2015, El Raml Misdemeanour Courtof Appeal in Alexandria sentenced Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, Mr. Youssef Shaban and Mr. LoayMohamed Abdel Rahman, along with seven other activists, to one year and threemonths’ imprisonment. The defendants were accused of storming El Raml policestation in Alexandria and assaulting police officers as well as torching theFreedom and Justice Party headquarters, political arm of the MuslimBrotherhood, “protesting without authorization”, “disrupting traffic”,“damaging content of the Police Station”, “attacking security forces”,“spreading fear and terror among citizens” and “attempt to smuggle prisoners”.
From Qanater women’s prison, Ms. MahienourEl-Massry started an hunger strike with six other detainees on July 28,2016, to protest against the denial of family visits in prison.
Moreover,Ms. El-Massry is still facing separate charges. On January 2, 2014, AlexandriaManshiya Misdemeanour Court sentenced in absentia Ms. MahienourEl-Massry and seven members of the political group “Revolutionary Socialists”,including Mr.Loay Mohamed Abdel Rahman to two years’imprisonment and a fine of EGP 50,000 (approximately EUR 5,140) for “protestingwithout a permit” and “assaulting security forces” following theirparticipation in a peaceful protest on December 2, 2013 to denounce policeviolence and in particular the impunity of Khaled Saeed murder.Ms. Mahienour El-Massry had failed to appear as she had not been informed inadvance of the date of the hearing.
OnMay 20, 2014, the Sidi Gaber Misdemeanour Court in Alexandria rejected thedemurrer filed by Ms. Mahienour El-Massryregardingthe sentenceissued against her in absentia. Ms. Mahienour El-Massry was immediatelydetained following the hearing.
OnJuly 20, 2014, after successive adjournments, the Sidi Gaber AppealMisdemeanour Court in Alexandria sentenced Ms. Mahienour El-Massry to sixmonths of prison and a fine of EGP 50,000 for “protesting without a permit” and“assaulting security forces”. Ms. El-Massry's lawyers appealed the sentencebefore the Court of Cassation.
On September 21, 2014, Al Mansheya Misdemeanour Appeals Court decided tosuspend the execution of Ms. El-Massry's six-month prison sentence, pending theappeal lodged before the Court of Cassation. This decision followed a demurrerfiled by Ms. El-Massry's lawyers challenging the execution of her sentence pendinga final outcome.
Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:
i. Guaranteein all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. MahienourEl-Massry, Mr. Youssef Shaban and Mr. Loay Mohamed Abdel Rahman, as well as allhuman rights defenders in Egypt;
ii. ReleaseMr. Loay Mohamed Abdel Rahman immediately and unconditionally since hisdetention is arbitrary as it merely aims at sanctioning his human rightsactivities;
iii. Put an end to all acts ofharassment, including at the judicial and administrative level, against Ms.Mahienour El-Massry, Mr. Youssef Shaban and Mr. Loay Mohamed Abdel Rahman, andmore generally against all human rights defenders, as they are clearly aimed athindering their peaceful human rights activities;
iv. Guarantee the right to freedom ofmovement of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, Mr. Youssef Shaban and Mr. Loay MohamedAbdel Rahman;
v. Complywith all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human RightsDefenders adopted on December 9, 1998 by the UN General Assembly, in particularwith its Articles 1, 5(a), 6(a), and its Article 12.2;
vi. Ensure in all circumstances respectfor human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with internationalhuman rights standards and international instruments ratified by Egypt.
· President of the Arab Republicof Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 23901998
· Prime Minister of Egypt, Mr.Ibrahim Mehleb, Fax: + 202 2735 6449 / 27958016. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Minister of the Interior ofEgypt, General Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, E-mail: email@example.com, Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 27945529
· Minister of Justice of Egypt,Mr. Ezzat Khamis, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: +202 2795 8103
· Public Prosecutor, CounsellorHisham Barakat Dar al-Qadha al-Ali, Fax: +202 2577 4716
· Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President ofthe National Council For Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email: email@example.com
· H.E. Ms. Wafaa Bassim, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the UnitedNations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: +41 22 738 44 15
· Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt inyour respective country.
 These seven individuals includeMessrs. Mohamed Ramadan, lawyer, Sherif El Gamal, activist, and Noha Kamal, activist.
 The Revolutionary Socialists joined with othermovements in rejecting, opposing, and protesting against an anti-protest lawpassed by the Egyptian transitional government in 2013.
 Mr. Khaled Saeed was killed by police forceson June 6, 2010 and subsequently became a symbol of police repression duringthe 2011 Egyptian Revolution
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Continued arbitrary detention of Ms. Mahienour El-Massry, Mr. Youssef Shaban, and Mr. Loay Mohamed Abdel Rahman