CFJ participates in a global UN questionnaire on human rights defenders in lengthy detention
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: April 27, 2021
The Committee for Justice (CFJ) has participated in the global questionnaire published by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, in which she called on civil society organizations worldwide to submit a list of names of human rights defenders held in detention for long periods.
The UN rapporteur aims through this survey to collect information on the issue of detaining human rights defenders for long periods, which will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly in October 2021.
The questionnaire stated that “human rights defenders play their role in promoting and defending human rights within a legal environment that is not always in line with the United Nations Charter and international human rights law.”
“In some cases, as reported in many Human Rights Council and General Assembly meetings, national legislation, especially security legislation and anti-terrorism laws, or regulations related to civil society and public freedoms, have been abused in order to target defenders in a manner that is inconsistent with international law and would cause them to arbitrarily deprive them of their freedoms for long periods of time,” the questionnaire added.
CFJ has submitted a letter with a list of names of 11 human rights defenders detained in Egypt, explaining that the cases it sent relate to Egyptian human rights defenders who are currently being held in pretrial detention and charged with politically motivated charges, most of which are related to terror charges.
The organization indicated in its message that over the past several years, Egyptian authorities have increasingly transformed pretrial detention from an exceptional legal procedure into a punitive tool that is systematically used against human rights defenders. For example, defenders find themselves facing new charges in a new case before being issued a release order or during the completion of the release process. Authorities are increasingly detaining human rights defenders pending multiple separate cases, in what has become known as the “recycling of cases” or the “perpetual renewed detention.”
The organization also stated that, given the current situation in Egypt, human rights defenders are expected to spend many years in pre-trial detention on one or more cases under investigation if the charges are confirmed by the prosecution after the completion of the investigation. If the cases are referred to court, most human rights defenders would be at great risk of being sentenced to prison terms of 10 years or more, with hard labor in most cases or even the death penalty.
CFJ’s letter listed cases of the following defenders: Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Hoda Abdel-Moneim Hassan, Aisha Muhammad Khairat Al-Shater, Ezzat Eid Taha Fadl Ghoneim, Muhammad Abu Hurairah Muhammad Abdul Rahman, Muhammad Hassan Muhammad Salah al-Din al-Baqir, Mahienour Muhammad Abdel Salam al-Masry, Amr Muhammad Adel Imam Muhammad Mustafa, Ahmed Shawqi Abd al-Sattar Muhammad Amasha, Ibrahim Abdel-Moneim Metwally Hegazy, and Rami Kamel Sayed Salib.