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CFJ spokeswoman: Civil society exists in Egypt despite repression

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News briefing:

Translation and editing by: Committee for Justice

Geneva, 1 March 2021

The spokeswoman of the Committee for Justice (CFJ), Yasmine Hajar, said that the organization’s latest report “2020: A year of breaching the right of defence”, with the qualitative and quantitative evidence cited in it, is evidence of the existence of Egyptian civil society despite the repression that is being carried out by Egyptian security services.

Civil society exists despite repression in Egypt:

Hajar said in a television interview on Al-Araby TV channel that the organization has a wide network of human rights defenders and lawyers in Egypt, and those who seek to obtain any available papers on the cases in which there are violations against the defendants.

The last report documented the papers of nearly 90 cases, which involve more than three thousand defendants.

Hajar added that our success in producing such a report in terms of the number of cases and violations monitored, is proof to the Egyptian regime that civil society groups are still in place despite all its repression, and it is a direct message that we will continue to defend the rights of the oppressed.

Breaching the right of defence is the most prominent violation in 2020:

Regarding the report, Hajar emphasized that breaching the right of defence was the most prominent violation in 2020, pointing out at the same time that the report monitored other violations; such as the recycling of cases, and the numerous cases of enforced disappearance, torture, and the denial of the right to a fair trial for detainees and prisoners.

Coronavirus crisis and the legalization of violations:

Regarding the Egyptian regime’s exploitation of the coronavirus crisis to perpetuate this violation, Hajar said, “The coronavirus pandemic did not bring anything new, but it is, as we say in an Arabic proverb, the one that overflowed the cup, as the Egyptian security services exploited the pandemic to practice more violations.”

The spokeswoman of the organization continued: “The coronavirus crisis has facilitated the process of recycling of cases by applying the probationary measures implemented by the Egyptian government to confront the pandemic in an arbitrary manner against detainees, as their detention is renewed without referring them to the prosecution or judge, or directing new charges to them without their knowledge, or the knowledge or the presence of their lawyers as well.”

Hajar also stressed that the coronavirus pandemic facilitated the legalization of these violations, as with the beginning of the pandemic, laws were put in place that facilitated violations of citizens’ rights. These include the Terrorist Entities Law, the Emergency Law, as well as the issuance of a decree by the Egyptian Ministry of Interior that prohibits visits from detainees in prisons.

International silence and attempts to create pressure on Egypt:

Regarding the international silence against the violations committed in Egypt specifically, CFJ spokeswoman explained that “Egypt has diplomatic and military relations with many countries of the world, but in spite of this, we find that there is an international movement, such as what happened when the members of the EIPR were arrested, where international pressure was put on Egypt until they were released. We, as human rights organizations, seek to create this international pressure on Egypt to stop its human rights violations, through our contact with the UN and international mechanisms.”

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