Egypt: Presidential pardon demanded following verdict upholding imprisonment of human rights defender Amal Fathy
The undersigned human rights organizations denounce the ruling on 11 January by the Egyptian Court of Cassation upholding the imprisonment of human rights defender Amal Fathy with a one-year prison sentence including time served, in case no. 7991 of 2018, known in the media as “The Harassment Case.” The Maadi Misdemeanour Court had previously issued a two-year prison sentence and a fine of EGP 10,000 against Fathy in December 2018. The organizations call on the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to use his power and issue a presidential pardon for Amal Fathy.
The verdict against Fathy was issued in conjunction with President Sisi’s declaration of 2022 as the year of civil society, and following the announcement of a National Strategy for Human Rights. The verdict is an affirmation of the Egyptian state’s relentless abuse of Egyptian advocates and its far-reachiung liquidation of civil society, human rights organizations, and their staff. Several days ago, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) announced the suspension of its activities after eighteen years of defending freedom of expression, due to security and judicial pressures on the organization and its founder, human rights Gamal Eid. Fathy, a recipient of the Bruno Kreisky Prize for her defense of human rights, has faced repression for her advocacy together with further attacks as the wife of Mohamed Lotfy, the Executive Director of the Egyptian Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms (ECRF). ECRF and its staff have been continually targeted for harassment and prosecution in retaliation for its documentation of security violations and work focused on torture in prisons and enforced disappearances.
The case against Fathy dates back to 11 May 2018, when security forces of seven Special Forces and two masked men stormed her house at 2:30 in the morning, arresting her after searching and ransacking the house. After hours of prolonged investigation, the Maadi District Prosecution decided to detain Fathy for fifteen days on charges of broadcasting video clips on the social media platform Facebook. The prosecution claimed the video involved incitement to overthrow the regime, and another video was classified as false rumors and misuse of social media. However, Fathy published these “angry” videos after being harassed by a public employee in a government facility, and she accused the authorities of being lenient with the perpetrators of the crime.
Two days following her arrest, Fathy was interrogated again before the Supreme State Security Prosecution in connection with a new case, no. 621 of 2018, on charges of joining a terrorist group and using the Internet to incite terrorist acts and spread false news. Fathy was also interrogated about the activities of her husband, the executive director of ECRF. In December 2018, the Cairo Criminal Court ordered her release in connection with this case, while the Maadi Misdemeanour Court issued a two-year prison sentence and a fine of EGP 10,000 in the case related to the “angry” videos.
The signatory human rights organizations condemn the verdict of imprisonment for human rights defender Amal Fathy. The organizations reiterate that the state’s repressive practices will not stop the rising wave of disillusionment resulting from daily security violations of the rights of Egyptian citizens, and will not discourage human rights organizations from continuing to monitor and document these violations.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression
Committee for Justice
The Egyptian Front for Human Rights
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
El Nadeem Center
Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedom
The Freedom Initiative