Egypt: UN calls for an end to violations against detained human rights lawyer Youssef Mansour
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: August 8, 2022
United Nations human rights experts affirm that the arrest, enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention of the Egyptian human rights lawyer, Youssef Mansour, constitutes a violation of the guarantees that lawyers are entitled to in order to perform their professional functions without any threat, intimidation, harassment or interference.
The statement was part of a United Nations memorandum sent to the Egyptian authorities, on May 25, 2022, which has not yet been answered.
The memo was about the arrest of Mansour, a human rights lawyer who previously worked with the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, a non-governmental organization that shut down in January 2022.
Arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance:
The experts explained that on March 24, 2022, about 30 security officers arrested Mansour without presenting any arrest warrant, but they told him that they were affiliated to the government and gave him three minutes to get ready. Then he was forcibly disappeared for two days, during which he was held incommunicado by the National Security Agency, which questioned him about his social media posts.
The experts added that, on Friday, March 25, 2022, Mansour was transferred to the Al-Basateen police station, without the knowledge of his family or his lawyer, and the next day he appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution in Case No. 330/2022 on charges of publishing false news inside and outside Egypt.
He has been detained pending the charges, and prison authorities have refused to implement official visitor permits for the family and the lawyer under the pretext of being held in a maximum-security facility inside Tora Prison (Al-Aqrab 2).
Concern about violations of freedom of expression guarantees:
The experts expressed grave concern about the prosecution of Mansour as a result of his legitimate exercise of his professional functions as a human rights lawyer, and his related use of social media. Lawyers have the right to perform their professional functions without any threat, intimidation, harassment or interference.
Demands from the Egyptian authorities:
The experts called on the Egyptian authorities to provide information on the legal and factual basis for the accusations against Mansour in Case 330/2022, and any measures taken to ensure that the legal basis is used in a manner consistent with international human rights conventions.
The experts also called on Egypt to provide information on how the authorities allowed Mansour to challenge the legality of his arrest and detention, including by allowing him to be brought promptly before a judge, as well as providing information on his access to family visits and the receipt of food and other items such as hygiene and medicine.
The experts also asked the authorities in Egypt to describe the measures that have been taken to ensure that human rights defenders – including lawyers, civil society and activists – can work in an enabling environment and carry out their legitimate activities without fear of criminalization.