The undersigned organizations said that coinciding with the passage of 20 months since the arrest of lawyer and human rights activist, and director of the “Adalah” Center for Rights and Freedoms, Muhammad Al-Baqer is still subjected to more violations that have deprived him of a large number of his human rights, amid a deliberate disregard by the Egyptian authorities of human rights and international calls demanding his release and a cessation of these violations against him.
Al-Baqer was arrested on September 29, 2019, while he was performing his work attending the investigation with his client, the well-known political activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah. The prosecution added them both to state security case no. 1356/2019 joining several human rights defenders languishing in Egyptian prisons in remand detention.
The organizations explained that Al-Baqer was subjected to a number of violations, starting with moral intimidation and physical assault at the moment he arrived at his detention facility in Tora 2 high-security prison, in addition to the deterioration of his detention conditions and the prison administration’s insistence until now on denying him “time outside his cell” as well as reading, in clear violation of the law organizing Prisons, thereby endangering his health.
The organizations added that the Egyptian authorities were not satisfied with this. On August 31, 2020, Al-Baqer was rotated onto a new Supreme State Security case No. 855/2020. Also on November 19, 2020, he was included on the lists of terrorist entities and persons.
The organizations also confirmed that over the course of 20 months of detention, the defense committee for Al-Baqer submitted a memo to request his release and prove the nullity of his continued imprisonment, in addition to filing an appeal against his inclusion on the lists of terrorist entities, as well as a number of requests and complaints from his family, in addition to filing a lawsuit to enable him to receive the Coronavirus vaccine inside his prison cell, which has not been done so far.
The organizations indicated that “Al-Baqer” founded the “Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms” in 2014 as a non-governmental Egyptian human rights center that focused on three main programs; Education and student program, with regard to files of higher education, student rights and freedoms; the criminal justice program, addressing conditions of places of detention, fair trial guarantees and criminal treatment of children; and a program on the rights of refugees and immigrants.
In October 2020, the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) decided to grant the CCBE Human Rights Award to Mohamed El Baker and another 6 Egyptians lawyers. Meanwhile the international community reiterated its demands for the immediate release of El-Baqer. Some of them talked to Egyptian authorities with the same appeal.
In October 2019, the spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed serious concern about the massive arrests of a number of civil society activists, including Mohamed El-Baker, and in the same month the European Union condemned Egypt’s use of arbitrary pre-trial detention against Mohamed Al-Baker and other human rights defenders.
In July 2020, 12 special rapporteurs of the United Nations addressed Egypt for his release beside a number of other human rights defenders in July 2020. The European Parliament, in December 2020, called for the immediate and unconditional release of El Baker and others, who were arrested because of their peaceful and legitimate work related human rights.
The UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawler, said in her statement about the global questionnaire in which she called on civil society organizations to send information about human rights defenders who have been detained for long periods, including the case of “Al-Baqer”, that “human rights defenders are playing their role in promoting and defending human rights in a legal context that is not always in line with the United Nations Charter and international human rights law. ”
Lawler added: “In some cases, as is reported in numerous Human Rights Council meetings and General Assembly resolutions, national legislation has been misused, especially security legislation, anti-terrorism laws, or regulations related to civil society and public freedoms, in order to target defenders in a manner that is inconsistent with international law and would cause them to be arbitrarily deprived of their freedoms for long periods of time.”
The undersigned organizations call on the Egyptian authorities to stop the violations against “Al-Baqer” and the rest of the human rights defenders who are in their custody immediately, and to provide their most basic human rights in their detention, stressing that there is no way to redress “Al-Baqer” and other human rights defenders except with their immediate release and dropping charges against them, and providing an appropriate environment for them to perform their peaceful human rights work in a safe and effective manner.
Egyptian Front for Human Rights
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Committee for Justice
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Nadeem Center against Violence and Torture
Tahrir Institute for Middle East Studies
Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression