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EGYPT: Arrest of lawyer and human rights activist Mahienour El-Massry


On Friday, September 20, hundreds of people demonstrated in Cairo and other cities across the country against the government. They asked for the departure of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who is currently in New York for the UN General Assembly.

The rallies were quickly dispersed by the police, who used tear gas and made several arrests. Clashes took place in the city of Suez (east) between police and demonstrators, who protested on the night of Saturday to Sunday for the second consecutive day despite the ban.

The NGO Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights reported 356 arrests since Friday. In addition, NetBlocks, an organization that monitors the Internet network, reported on Sunday on Twitter restrictions on access, including Facebook email and the BBC News website. Egypt is under a state of emergency and protest movements are banned under a law adopted in 2013, after the dismissal of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi by the army, headed by General Sissi.

The government is carrying out a major crackdown on the opposition, imprisoning thousands of Islamists, activists and bloggers.

Egyptian lawyer and human rights activist Mahienour el-Massry was arrested on Sunday by police in Cairo after attending demonstrators.

“Mahienour was arrested by police outside the headquarters of the State Security Prosecutor’s Office in Cairo, where she attended the interrogations as a lawyer for people arrested during the demonstrations,” said Ms Tareq al-Oudi. She was awarded the 2014 Ludovic-Trarieux Prize, awarded each year to a lawyer who illustrated the defence of human rights while serving a prison sentence for “participation in an unauthorized demonstration”. She has also been detained several times under the regime of deposed President Hosni Mubarak. She was re-convicted under the regime of President Mohamed Morsi.

Other lawyers have also been arrested:

∙ Maître Haysam Mohamadann was arrested for his involvement in Human Rights.

∙ Maître Ziad El Alimy was arrested for participating in meetings to run for Egyptian legislative elections.

∙ Maître Mohamed Ramadan was arrested for wearing a yellow vest.

∙ Maître Mohamed Hamdy Younès and Maître Ahmed Sarhan were kidnapped and taken to unknown places for demanding a judicial inquiry after the revelations of corruption against President Sisi and his generals.

∙ Maitre Aly Ayoub, lawyer of Maitre Marzouk, was also arrested on Sunday, then released the next day without explanation.

The IOLD supports all Egyptian lawyers arrested.

The IOLD urges the Egyptian authorities to drop the charges against them and allow them to exercise their legal profession freely.

The IOLD calls on the Egyptian authorities to comply with the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, according to which :

  • Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (…) (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics” (Principle n°16);
  • Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities” (Principle n°17).
  • Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.” (Principle n° 23)