Judicial harassment of Gamal Eid
On 17 September 2016, the Cairo Criminal Court confirmed the order to freeze the personal funds and family assets of a number of human rights defenders and their organisations, including Gamal Eid. Forty-one Egyptian organisations have been included in the foreign funding case, also known as Case No. 173, with some of their leaders and staff members being summoned on charges including “receipt of illegal foreign funding” and “working without legal permission”.
Gamal Eid is a renowned lawyer and advocate of freedom of expression in Egypt. He is the founder and director of the Arab Network of Human Rights Information (ANHRI), which was established in 2003 to promote freedom of expression, campaign against censorship in the Middle East and North Africa, and provide legal assistance to journalists and internet activists.
On 17 September 2016, the Cairo Criminal Court confirmed the order to freeze the personal funds and family assets of a number of human rights defenders and their organisations, including Gamal Eid, Hossam Bahgat, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and its Founder Bahey El Din Hassan, the Egyptian Center for Right to Education (EIPR) and its Director Abdel Hafez Tayel, and the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and its Director Mostafa Al Hassan. The five human rights defenders and three non-governmental organisations are accused of illegally receiving foreign funding. If they are found guilty, they face up to 25 years imprisonment.
On 20 April 2016, an investigating judge ordered to expand the asset freezing case list to prominent Egyptian human rights defender Mr Bahey Eldin Hassan, his wife and daughter, two staff members of Cairo Institute For Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), human rights defenders Mr Mostafa Al Hassan and Mr Abdel Hafez Tayel. This development is related to the foreign funding case which recently reopened in Egypt. On the same day, the Cairo Criminal Court in Zeinhom postponed the asset freeze hearing of Mr Hossam Bahgat, Mr Gamal Eid and other human rights defenders, charged for “using foreign funding to foment unrest”. This is following a request to freeze their personal funds and family assets. If charged, the human rights defenders could each face up to twenty-five years imprisonment under the Egyptian penal code.
Bahey Eldin Hassan is the director and founder of the CIHRS, a Cairo-based, independent, regional non-governmental organization founded in 1993 working on the promotion and respect for the principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the Arab region. CIHRS received the French Republic's Human Rights Prize in 2007. Mostafa Al Hassan is an Egyptian lawyer and the director of the leading independent human rights organisation Hisham Mubarak Law Centre dedicated to the promotion of human rights through litigation, campaigns and legal research. Abdel Hafez Tayel is head of the Egyptian Center for Right to Education, an organisation aimed at promoting and ensuring human rights education in Egypt.
Forty-one Egyptian organisations have been included in the foreign funding case, also known as Case No. 173, with some of their leaders and staff members being summoned on charges including “receipt of illegal foreign funding” and “working without legal permission”. In March 2016, four human rights defenders and their families were informed that an order had been made for the freezing of their money and properties. These include Hossam Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), and currently a journalist at the independent news service Mada Masr, reporting extensively on army and military trials in Egypt, and Gamal Eid, founder and director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Two staff members of CIHRS and three staff members from Nazra for Feminist Studies were also summoned to appear for questioning. The trial has been postponed by the Cairo Criminal Court in Zeinhom until 23 May 2016, pending further investigation.
Front Line Defenders condemns the criminalisation of civil society in Egypt and calls for an immediate end to the persecution of human rights defenders, reiterating the essential role of their work in the development of just and equal society.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Egypt to:
1. Put an end to the ongoing investigation against the above-mentioned human rights defenders and human rights organisations in Egypt, and drop all charges and measures, including the asset freezes, against them and their families;
2. Immediately cease all forms of harassment of human rights organisations and human rights defenders in Egypt, as Front Line Defenders believes that their rights are being restricted solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Egypt are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
On 4 February 2016, Egyptian security at Cairo International Airport prevented human rights defender Mr Gamal Eid from travelling to Athens, Greece, on a business trip. Authorities informed him that the General Prosecutor had ordered a travel ban against him. Gamal Eid had not previously been notified of the travel ban or summoned for investigation on any case.
Egyptian authorities have repeatedly used travel bans to intimidate and silence critical human rights defenders. Travel bans have also been imposed on human rights defenders Messrs Omar Hazek, Mohamed Lotfy, Esraa Abdel Fattah, Hossameldin Ali, Ahmed Ghonim and Bassim Samir.