New York, March 28, 2016— The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) condemns in the strongest terms the Egyptian government’s crackdown against human rights activists and calls on it to halt its ongoing investigation of independent human rights organizations in relation to the legitimate exercise of their activities and to close Case No. 173 (the “NGO foreign funding” case) once and for all.
Independent human rights organizations in Egypt continue to face threats of prosecution under Law 84 of 2002, which empowers the government to shut down any nongovernmental organization, block its funding, or deny requests for it to affiliate with international organizations, among other measures. Case No. 173 goes back to July 2011, when the Egyptian cabinet ordered the Minister of Justice to determine which groups are registered under the law and to set up a fact-finding committee to look into foreign funding received by civil society groups operating in the country.
The committee’s findings were used by Egyptian prosecutors to bring charges against international organizations. In June 2013, a Cairo criminal court sentenced 43 foreign and Egyptian employees of foreign organizations to 1-5 years’ imprisonment. Today, 37 organizations named in the committee’s report are targets of possible prosecution.
Last week, two prominent human rights defenders, Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid, among others, were summoned to appear before investigative judges after receiving a formal summons in connection with Case No. 173. The defendants were banned from traveling earlier this month. Today, another prominent activist, Mozn Hassan, the executive director of Nazra for Feminist Studies, will be interrogated with three other staff from her organization as part of the same case.
“Such practices are contrary to Egypt's international commitments to respect human rights and rule of law,” says David Tolbert, president of ICTJ. “The Egyptian government is using Law 84 and the ‘NGO foreign funding’ to harass and intimidate many of its most respected human rights defenders.”
Egypt should comply with the pledges it made in accepting many of the recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council during the country’s Universal Periodic Review in March 2015.
“Until the Egyptian government repeals the relevant laws and releases those convicted under them, there can be little meaningful progress on addressing serious human rights violations of the past — or present,” says Tolbert.
Refik Hodzic, ICTJ Director of Communications E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +1 917-637-3853
PHOTO: Mozan Hassan, the executive director of Nazra for Feminist Studies. (Mahmoud Saber/Flickr)