Investigation with Judges Assem Abd al-Gabbar and Hesham Raouf, Lawyer Negad Al-Borai Must Be Closed, Crackdown on those Calling for the Rule of Law and Ending Torture Must be Halted

Press Release

16 June 2016

The undersigned human rights organizations and political parties express their deep concern about the Egyptian authorities' intention to start investigations with the two judges Assem Abd al-Gabbar and Hesham Raouf, for allegedly engaging in politics and collaborating with an outlawed institution “United Group” law firm headed by rights lawyer Negad al-Borai, who has been interrogated for six times and charged with unjust accusations that have nothing to do with the rule of law. Among these accusations are; obstructing the state institutions from carrying out their work, establishing an illegal entity, in addition to a number of striking acts and practices that were included in the National Security Agency's report on “using mind control and non-violence”.

The signatories asserted that the two judges and the rights lawyer's proposal of an anti-torture law should be met with gratitude and appreciation; as it entails great benefit to the state and society. It is considered as a positive initiative that the state and the Supreme Judicial Council suppose to applaud and support, rather than prosecuting those who took it.

On the 11th of March 2015, the United Group held an expert workshop to discuss the draft law, which was made in collaboration with a group of counselors and legal experts. The two judges Assem Abd al-Gabbar and Hesham Raouf took part in supervising the legal drafting of the law, in order to bring it in line with the constitution's provisions and the international standards, as well as Egypt's 2014 pledge at the conclusion of its Universal Periodic Review before the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Nevertheless, after the United Group had sent its bill to the concerned state ministries, including the Ministry of Justice and the Presidency Office, the two judges participated in passing the law “Assem Abd al-Gabbar and Hesham Raouf” were surprised that there are news reports- cited by legal sources- that confirm mandating a judge to be interrogating them against the backdrop of their participation in passing the draft law and in the expert workshop organized by the United Group firm.

The United Group head, lawyer Negad al-Borai, had been also interrogated for several sessions, before the hearing of June 18 was set to hear the testimonies of judge Hesham Raouf and the hearing of June 19 to listen to the vice president of the Cassation Court Counselor Assem Abd al-Gabbar.

The signatories deemed the continuation of the investigation over this case to be reflecting the lack of the political will in the area of legal reform. At time the investigation with the two judges “Assem Abd al-Gabbar and Hesham Raouf” and the lawyer Negad al-Borai” are underway, on account of an anti-torture law proposed by them in addition to their cooperation with an illegal entity- as mentioned in the indictment, we find many of the state institutions- such as the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Information- have been holding numerous meetings with several human rights organizations regardless of their legal entity, in order to discuss initiatives in the course of the Interior Ministry and the media's reform and the press law amendment. Moreover, very high-authority apparatuses like the Interior Ministry had previously invited many of the institutions that are similar to the United Group one calling on their officials to train the ministry's leaders praising their initiatives. Such a matter demonstrates the vagueness of the charges related to the legal entity of the institution, and pointed out that there are many undeclared real reasons behind the case, among which is to crackdown on the two judges who are known for their stance supporting the independence of the judiciary, and to prosecute the human rights lawyer Negad al-Borai owing to his rights stances and criticial articles in al-Shourouk and al-Masry al-Youm newspapers.

The undersigned organizations and parties call on the government in Egypt to immediately halt these investigations, affirming that such attitude in dealing with two of the most honorable and dignified judges in Egypt is insulting to the country and its agencies, and provides further evidences of the hostility towards reform advocates who call for respecting human rights in Egypt.



Parties and Unions:

The Constitution Party

Popular Current Party (under construction)

Press Syndicate's Freedoms Committee

Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP), Rights and Freedoms Secretary

The Bread and Freedom Party (under construction)

Human Rights Organizations:

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)

El Nadim Center for the Management and Rehabilitation of victims of violence

The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE)

Association for Free Thought and Expression (AFTE)

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

Nazra for Feminist Studies

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR)

The Egyptian Observatory for Training and Consultancy

Heliopolis Center For Political Development And Human Rights Studies

The Egyptian Center for Women's Rights (ECWR)

Land Center for Human Rights (LCHR)

Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)

Haqqania Foundation for Rights and Freedoms

National Group for Human Rights and Law

Center for Human Rights Legal Aid (CHRLA)

Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA)

Hisham Mubarak Law Center

Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination [EARD]

The New Woman Foundation (NWF)

Andalus Institute for Tolerance & Anti-violence Studies (AITAS)

ADALAH Center for Rights & Freedoms (ACRF)