UN condemns misuse of counter-terrorism measures in Egypt amid calls for release of 3 activists
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Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: December 2, 2021
United Nations human rights experts called on Egypt to stop the misuse of counter-terrorism measures against civil society activists, lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders, and to immediately release three of those arbitrarily detained, including; Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Mohamed El-Baqer and Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan.
Threat to the international framework for combating terrorism:
“The systemic justification of such egregious measures under the guise of implementating United Nations Security Council resolutions is a grave threat to the legitimacy of international counter-terrorism framework and laws, the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the long-term peace and stability of Egypt,” the experts said in a statement published by the Media Center of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The experts pointed out that the Egyptian authorities accused blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah, lawyer and human rights defender Mohamed El-Baqer, and journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan, with vague crimes of spreading false news likely to pose a threat to national security. They are still being held under new or renewed orders, clearly exceeding the limits of pretrial detention under the Egyptian Criminal Penal Code.
The experts also indicated in their statement that on November 8, 2021, the Emergency State Security Misdemeanors Court postponed its proceedings against the three, and the verdict is expected on December 20.
“We are further disturbed by the decision of the Court of Cassation to reject the appeal against the listing of Mohamed El-Baqer, and other human rights defenders, as terrorists despite the advisory opinion by the Prosecution to rescind it,” the experts said.
The experts added that these individuals should be released because they were subjected to arbitrary detention and a violation of their rights to a fair trial and due process, and their names should be removed from the lists of terrorism in Egypt, which led to the deprivation of liberty without adequate judicial supervision or legal recourse, and in case of release would deprive them of their fundamental economic and social rights.
The experts also pointed out that each of the three is the subject of previous decisions of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, or communications from experts through the procedures of the Human Rights Council.
UN concerned about Egypt’s Anti-Terrorism Law and Terrorism Circuit Courts:
The experts also expressed grave concern about Egypt’s Anti-Terrorism Law and Terrorism Circuit Courts, and said that the systematic use of broad and vague definitions of terrorism targeting human rights defenders, journalists and those exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms – including freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association – harms human rights.
The experts emphasized that the provisions of the law go beyond the scope necessary to combat terrorism and severely limit civil space and the exercise of basic freedoms in Egypt.
The experts added that such measures do not comply with Egypt’s obligations under international law, which requires taking measures to combat terrorism in line with international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international refugee law.
The experts urged Egypt to review the anti-terror law and reverse the recent amendments that threaten more human rights violations.