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

Joint Statement

28 Mar 2015
Due to the continuous crackdown on human rights defenders, the undersigning human rights organizations and institutions and individuals express 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 is a member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party was killed during the violent and brutal dispersal of a peaceful memorial event.

The event was organized by members of the Socialist Popular 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. Azza Soliman, 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. Mostafa Abdel Al, a member of Bread and Liberty Party (under establishment), Dr. Maher Shaker, and 14 members of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (Mr. Talaat Fahmy – 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. Azza Soliman from the list of witnesses in the case of Shaimaa El Sabbagh to the list of defendants.  Azza Soliman was in a restaurant close to where El 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 Sabbagh were arrested and transferred into the defendants’ list after testifying. This escalation is a direct violation of the 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 of 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 Popular Alliance Party as the Protest Law, with which they are charged, and which is constitutionally challenged. Participating in 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- Nazra for Feminist Studies.
2- “Al Dameer” Foundation for Humanitarian Rights in Mansoura.
3- ACT.
4- Al Mahrousa Center for Economic and Social Development.
5- Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti-Violence Studies. 
6- Arab Office for Law (AOL).
7- Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).
8- Badr Al Tawayel Foundation for Societal Development in Sohag.
9- Baheya Ya Masr.
10- Bashayer – Helwan Foundation for Societal Development. 
11- Bent Al Ard Foundation. 
12- Bread and Liberty Party (under establishment).
13- Cairo Center for Development (CCD).
14- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS).
15- Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA).
16- Egyptian Association for Comprehensive Development (EACD).
17- Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR). 
18- Egyptian Center for Justice and Legal Studies. 
19- Egyptian Foundation For Advancement Of Childhood Conditions (EFACC).
20- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).
21-  Egyptian Popular Current. 
22- Egyptian Women Union.
23- Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination. 
24- El-Nadim Center for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture.
25- Female Egyptian Lawyers and Steps Towards the Future.
26- Female Egyptian Lawyers Initiative. 
27- Female Future Leaders Foundations in Al Saff.
28- Female Leaders Foundation for Development and Environment in Qaliobya./Shubra Al Khaima.
29- Feminist Renaissance Foundation in Dossami.
30- Forum for Women in Development.
31- Forum of Dialogue and Partnership for Development (FDPD).
32- Fouada Watch.
33- I Saw Harassment (Shoft Taharoush). 
34- Land Center for Human Rights (LCHR).
35- Lawyers for Justice.
36- Malak Hefni Nasef Foundation for Humanitarian Development. 
37- Media Personnel Association. 
38- Message of Light Foundation for Women’s Development in Minya.
39- National Community for Human Rights and Law (NCHRL).
40- New Woman Foundation. 
41- Omy Foundation for Rights and Development.
42- One World Foundation.
43- Our Dream Foundation for Comprehensive Development in Al Khosous.
44- Tawafuq Center for Legal Aid, Training, and Development.
45- The Arab Awareness Center for Rights and Law. 
46- The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).
47- The Egyptian Coalition on Children’s Rights. 
48- The Egyptian Foundation for Economic and Social Rights. 
49-  The Egyptian Foundation for Family Development. 
50- The Egyptian Foundation for the Societal Engagement. 
51- The Legal Foundation for Family Support and Human Rights. 
52- The National NGOs Center for Population and Development (NCPD).
53- The National Union for Legal Independence. 
54- The Nile Center for Studies and Researches.
55- United Group. 
56- Women and Memory Forum.
57- Women Center for Legal Support and Awareness in Mansoura.


1- Dr. Samir Elish – Director of The National NGOs Center for Population and Development (NCPD).
2- George Isaac – National Council of Human Rights’ member. 
3- Ragia Omran – Lawyer and National Council of Human Rights’ member.
4- Negad Al Borai’ – Lawyer in the Cassation court and Director of United Group.
5- Farid Zahran – Vice president of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. 
6- Mounir Mogahed – Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination. 
7- Nawla Darwish – Activist. 
8- Amal Abdel Hady – Feminist and Activist. 
9- Rae’d Salama -  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- Mervat AbouTeeg – Executive Director of Omi Foundation. 
14- Sherif Gamal  - 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- Lamiaa Lotfy – Feminist and Activist. 
21- Gawaher El Taher – Lawyer and Activist. 
22- Magda Soliman – Societal Development Unit Head at CEWLA. 
23- Iman Darwish.
24- Maged Sorour – Director of One World Foundation.
25- Abeer Ali – Lawyer.
26- Amal Fahmy.
27- Ahmed Hussein Mahmoud – Lawyer. 
28- Amira Abdel Hakim – Lawyer.
29- Inas Ibraim Kamel – Lawyer.
30- Mona Ezzat – Journalist.
31- Khadiga Gaber – Lawyer at the Appeal Court.
32- Nada Nashat – Coordinator at CEWLA.
33- Mohamed El Agaty – Political Science Researcher. 
34- Akram Islamil – Engineer.
35- Elham Eidaous – Interpreter. 
36- Manal Fathy – Lawyer.
37- Mofeed Halim. 
38- Ahmed Abou El Magd – Lawyer. 
39- Zeinab Khair – Lawyer. 
40- Mai Khaled El Bahy.
41- Ihab Omran – Channel 8. 
42- Mohamed Omar – Lawyer at the Appeal Court.
43- Reda Al Danbouki – Lawyer, Mansoura. 
44- Mohamed El Gebaly.