EGYPT: Threats and attacks against human rights lawyer Gamal Eid
Gamal Eid is a prominent Egyptian lawyer and human rights defender, particularly in the area of freedom of expression. He is the founder of The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) in 2003, which promotes freedom of expression in Egypt and provides legal assistance to human rights defenders and journalists. His association was awarded the Human Dignity Award in 2011 by the Roland Berger Foundation. Gamal Eid also received the Leader for Democracy Award in 2011 from the Project on Democracy in the Middle East (POMED).
Since 2016, lawyer Gamal Eid has been the victim of judicial harassment in the context of the “foreign financing” case, known as Case No. 173, which involves more than 40 organizations and their representatives. The lawyer’s family accounts and assets were frozen by order of the Cairo Criminal Court. Gamal Eid is also unable to leave the country and faces up to 25 years in prison. In June 2019, the Cairo Criminal Court postponed until 14 September 2049 the examination of an application to cancel the travel ban imposed on the lawyer and other human rights defenders; on 14 September 2019, it further postponed the hearing to 17 November 2019.
In addition, since September 30th, 2019, lawyer Gamal Eid has been the target of threats, assaults and acts of vandalism. He receives phone calls and SMS messages recommending him to stop his activities and “behave well”. His car was stolen on September 30th on one of the main streets during rush hour. Although the car was identified by different surveillance cameras, the investigation was closed.
On October 10, 2019, the lawyer was attacked by two armed men in plain clothes who tried to steal his phone and computer. He is injured in the arm and leg and has many broken ribs. No investigation has been opened into this attack, although Gamal Eid has surrendered to the police station.
On October 30, the lawyer received a threatening phone call and the next day, the car he had borrowed following the theft of his own vehicle was vandalized. The lawyer’s neighbours reported seeing several people carrying firearms stop in front of the vehicle earlier and then calling someone to give details of the vehicle.
In the context of the widespread repression of human rights defenders, the Egyptian authorities arbitrarily detained at least 16 lawyers in the exercise of their functions, including Haysam Mohamadann, Ziad el Alimy, Mohamed El Baker (Director of the Adalah Centre for Rights and Freedoms), Esraa Abdel Fattah and Mahinour el-Masry. Amr Imam, Gamal Eid’s lawyer and colleague, was also arrested on 16 October 2019 after publicly announcing that he would go on hunger strike to denounce police abuses and arbitrary arrests.
Such acts by the authorities are contrary to the principles of international law and Egypt’s obligations, in particular under the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers of 1990 and in particular:
- Principle No. 16: “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference“;
- Principle No. 17: “Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities“.
The OIAD expresses its deep concern at the constant threats to the physical and moral integrity of lawyer Gamal Eid.
The OIAD urges the Egyptian authorities to do their utmost to ensure that the protection of the lawyer is ensured and that an impartial and transparent investigation is carried out into the acts committed against him and that the perpetrators are identified.
The OIAD joins the call of the UN Special Rapporteurs to call on the Egyptian authorities to respect the right of Egyptian citizens to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
The OIAD joins the call launched by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a partnership between the International Federation for Human Rights, FIDH, and the World Organisation Against Torture, OMCT):
Please write to the authorities in Egypt, urging them to:
- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Messrs. Gamal Eid and Amr Imam as well as of all human rights defenders in Egypt;
- Carry out a transparent, impartial, immediate and thorough investigation into the above-mentioned events in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;
- Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Amr Imam, as his detention is arbitrary as it seems only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities;
- Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Gamal Eid and Amr Imam and all human rights defenders in Egypt and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;
- Conform in all circumstances to the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2.;
- Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by Egypt.
- President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 2391 1441. Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
- Prime Minister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email: email@example.com
- Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103
- Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
- Head of the Egyptian parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Alaa Abed, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email: email@example.com
- H.E. Mr. Alaa Youssef, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country.