Continuous Targeting of Human Rights Defenders in Egypt; Witnesses Become Defendants

Press Release

28 March 2015

Due to the continuous crackdown on human rights defenders, the undersigning human rights organizations and institutions and individualsexpress their astonishment and shock about the accusations that were charged by Qasr El Nile prosecution office in Egypt to a number of witnesses who willingly testified on the killing of Shaimaa El Sabbagh. El Sabbagh, who isamember of the Socialist People's Alliance Party was killed during the violent and brutal dispersal of a peaceful memorial event.

The event was organized by members of the Socialist People's Alliance Party on 24 January 2015 to commemorate peaceful protestors who lost their lives during the January 25th, 2011 Revolution. The witnesses were accused of protesting illegally, breaching the public order and infringing public security according to Law No: 107, for the year 2013 known as the Anti- Protest Law. 17 persons were charged based on these alleged accusations and they are: Ms. AzzaSoliman, a lawyer in the Cassation Court and President of Board of Trustees of Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) and as well as one if its founding members, Mr Mosatafa Abdel Al, a member of Bread and Freedom Party (under establishment), Dr. Maher Shaker, and 14 members of the Socialist People's Alliance Party (Mr. TalaatFahmy – Mr. Zohdi El Shami – Mr. Elhami El Merghani – Ms. Nagwa Abbas – Mr. Adel Meligi – Mr. Mohamed Salah – Mr. Khaled Mostafa – Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Mahmoud – Mr. Ahmed Fathy Nasr) are also on trial based on the same charges. Charges pertaining to Shaimaa El Sabbagh were dropped due to her death. The first court session is to take place on April 4th, 2015.

In an escalation move rejected by the undersigning Human rights organizations and individuals, the Prosecutor’s Office decided to transfer Ms. AzzaSoliman from the list of witnesses in the case of the Shaimaa El Sabbagh to the list of defendants. AzzaSoliman was in a restaurant close to where Sabbagh was murdered and she published her testimony on her Facebook account after providing it to the Prosecutor’s office. Moreover, Mr. Mostafa Abdel Al and Dr. Maher Shaker who were in a café nearby and tried to help and save El Sabbaghwere arrested and transferred into the defendants’ list after testifying.This escalation is a direct violation ofthe Egyptian constitution, which grants immunity to witnesses and requires witness protection. The accusations reflect the continuing security lockdown on human rights defenders, who exercise their right to freedom of expression and expose grave human rights violations.

The undersigned organizations and individuals call upon the Egyptian government to abide by its national human rights obligations and immediately drop all charges against Ms. Azza Soliman and other witnesses.The Egyptian government must also drop all charges against members of the Socialist People's Alliance Party as the Protest Law, with which they are charged, is constitutionally challenged. Participating to a peaceful demonstration is a fundamental human right which is guaranteed by international and regional human rights treaties. We call upon the Egyptian authorities to respect and protect the right to freedom of assembly and ensure protection of witnesses and human rights defenders.

Entities and organizations:

1- Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA)

2- New Woman foundation.

3- El-Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence

4- Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)

5- Nazra for Feminist studies

6- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

7- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)

8- Women and Memory Forum

9- Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR)

10- The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)

11- ACT

12- Cairo Center for Development (CCD)

13- Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti-Violence Studies

14- The Egyptian Foundation for the societal engagement.

15- The Egyptian Coalition on Children’s rights.

16- Egyptian Foundation For Advancement Of Childhood Conditions(EFACC)

17- Forum for Women in Development

18- Egyptian Women Union

19- United group

20- Fouada Watch

21- I saw harassment (ShoftTaharoush)

22- BaheyaYaMasr

23- Egyptian Popular Current

24- Bread and Freedom Party (under establishment)

25- Arab Office for Law (AOL)

26- The National NGOs Center for Population and Development (NCPD)

27- Forum of Dialogue and Partnership for Development (FDPD)

28- Land Center for Human Rights (LCHR)

29- Bashayer – Helwan foundation for societal development

30- One world foundation

31- Tawafuq Center for legal aid, training, and development

32- MalahHefniNasef foundation for humanitarian development

33- Al Mahrousa Center for economic and social development

34- Lawyers for Justice

35- Egyptian Center for justice and legal studies

36- Bent Al Ard foundation

37- Female Egyptian Lawyers initiative

38- Female Egyptian Lawyers and steps towards the future

39- The Nile Center for Studies and Researches

40- The National Union for legal independence

41- Egyptians against religious discrimination

42- The Egyptian foundation for family development

43- National Community for Human Rights and Law (NCHRL)

44- Egyptian Association for Comprehensive Development (EACD)

45- The Arab Awareness Center for rights and law

46- Media personnel association

47- The legal foundation for family support and Human Rights

48- The Egyptian Foundation for Economic and Social Rights

49- Omy foundation for Rights and Development

50- Our Dream foundation for comprehensive development in Al Khosous

51- Female future leaders foundations in Al Saff

52- Female leaders foundation for development and environment in Qaliobya /Shubra Al Khaima

53- Feminist renaissance foundation in Dossami

54- Message of Light foundation for Women’s Development in Minya

55- “Al Dameer” foundation for humanitarian rights in Mansoura

56- Women Center for legal support and awareness in Mansoura

57- Badr Al Tawayel Foundation for societal development in Sohag


1- Dr Samir Elish – Diresctor of The National NGOs Center for Population and Development (NCPD)

2- George Isaac – National Council of Human Rights’ member

3- RagiaOmran – Lawyer and National Council of Human Rights’ member

4- Negad Al Borai’ – Lawyer in the Cassation court and Director of United Group

5- FaridZahran – Vice president of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party

6- MounirMogahed – Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination

7- NawlaDarwish – Activist

8- Amal Abdel Hady – Feminist and Activist

9- Rae’dSalama -  American Institute of CPAs fellow

10- Yasser Abdel Gawad – Director of Arab Office for Law (AOL)

11- Khaled Daoud – Al Doustor Party’s Media Spokesperson

12- Instar Al Said – Lawyer and Director of CCD

13- MervatAbouTeeg – Executive director of Omi foundation

14- SherifGamal - ED of CEWLA

15- Seham Ali – Lawyer and ED of CEWLA

16- Noha Ali – Interpreter

17- Noura Mohamed – Lawyer

18- Salah El Saman – Lawyer in the Cassation Court

19- Dalia AL Aswad – Al Dostour Party Member

20- LamiaaLotfy – Feminist and activist

21- Gawaher El Taher – Lawyer and Activist

22- Magda Soliman – Societal development Unit Head at CEWLA

23- ImanDarwish

24- MagedSorour – Director of One World Foundation

25- Abeer Ali – Lawyer

26- AmalFahmy

27- Ahmed Hussein Mahmoud – Lawyer

28- Amira Abdel Hakim – Lawyer

29- InasIbraimKamel – Lawyer

30- Mona Ezzat – Journalist

31- KhadigaGaber – Lawyer at the appeal court

32- Nada Nashat – coordinator at CEWLA

33- Mohamed El Aggaty – Political Science Researcher

34- AkramIslamil – Engineer

35- ElhamEidEndraous – interpreter

36- ManalFathy – Lawyer

37- Mofeed Halim

38- Ahmed Abou El Magd – Lawyer

39- ZeinabKhair – Lawyer

40- Mai Khaled El Bahy

41- IhabOmran – Chanel 8

42- Mohamed Omar – Lawyer at the appeal court

43- Reda Al Danbouki – Lawyer, Mansoura

44- Mohamed El Gebaly