– A UN Working Group condemns the Egyptian government’s procedures against human rights defenders under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
– The Working Group on Arbitrary detention demands the release of Mr. Ghoneim and providing reparations.
Committee for Justice
Geneva, 7May 2019
Committee for Justice gets updated UN support for its efforts towards establishing a proper climate for human rights work in Egypt and advocating for human rights and support for its defenders.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary detention announced at the Human Rights Council its support for the request submitted by “Committee for Justice” for the release of Egyptian human rights defender Ezzat Ghoneim and investigation of the violations he endured.
In the legal opinion No. 82/2018 published last month, the Working Group described the case of Ezzat Ghoneim as an arbitrary detention case which falls within the five categories of the UN arbitrary detention classification. This opinion was issued by consensus at the 83rd session of the Working Group.
The Working Group noted that the Egyptian rights activist, Ezzat Ghoneim, endured a first category arrest, through being detained without proper legal basis in absence of the protection of law, which was followed by being enforcedly disappeared and not taken directly to an investigations judge to determine the legality of his detention.
It added that the case of Ezzat Ghoneim also applies to the second category of detention, since his arrest was a direct result of exercising his rights given that his activity is not considered a crime, and even if his accusation of spreading false news was true, in democratic societies this doesn’t justify his arrest.
The UN Group also affirmed that Mr. Ghonneim’s case applies to the third category of detention, as the Group considers that his arrest had an arbitrary nature, and therefore he should not be subjected to a trial. Nevertheless, Mr. Ghoneim was subjected to an investigation where he endured several violations which included the complete disregard of his right for legal assistance, being subjected to intimidation and psychological pressure and violation of the principle of ‘defendant is innocent until proven guilty” through pre-trial conviction by publishing a video showing him as an accused.
The Group also noted that the arrest of Mr. Ghoneim also falls under the fifth category of arbitrary detention, since his arrest was based on his work as a human rights defender.
The Working Group highlighted that such arrest comes as a part of a broader governmental campaign targeting human rights defenders in Egypt, followed closely with concern by the Human Rights Council. The Group stressed that the Egyptian government does not accept any form of opposition and suppresses it under the pretext of combatting terrorism.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention announced that commencement of series of follow-up procedures through consultations with a number of special rapporteurs.
The UN Group also called on the Egyptian government to immediately release Mr. Ghoneim and to accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, as well as conducting a full and independent investigation into the violations committed against him and to hold those responsible accountable.
On his part, the executive director of CFJ Ahmed Mefreh praised this demonstrated UN support to the work of the organization in the face of a systematic campaign led by the Egyptian government against human rights defenders and organizations in Egypt.
Mr. Mefreh reiterated CFJ’s continued efforts through relevant UN bodies in Geneva to stop all violations and to oblige Egypt to abide by its international commitments to respect human rights.