Egyptians lawyers’ duo nominated for the CCBE 2020 Human Rights Award.
The French, Italian and Spanish Delegations of the CCBE, founding members of the International Observatory of Lawyers in Danger, have decided to support Egyptians lawyers Mahienour El-Massry and Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy by nominating them for the CCBE Human Rights Award.
This award is organized each year to raise awareness of the core values of the legal profession. The award recognizes lawyers or lawyers’ organizations for their outstanding commitment and sacrifice for human rights. In 2019 it was awarded to imprisoned Iranian lawyers Nasrin Sotoudeh, Abdolfattah Soltani, Mohammad Najafi and Amir Salar Davoodi for their courage, determination and commitment to the defence of human rights in Iran.
Mahienour El-Massry is an Egyptian human rights lawyer and an activist involved in the political life since she was a teenager. Several times detained under the regime of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, she is one of the figures of the uprising that overthrew him in 2011. She continued her struggle after the “Arab Spring” and was again condemned under the Morsi and Al-Sisi regimes.
Often described as a voice of the revolution and a defender of women’s rights, her activism covers a wide range of activities : human rights, student rights, women’s rights, workers’ strikes, legal aid, police brutality, housing for the poor, corruption, trials against the military, heritage preservation, the right to public space, state land reclamation for the poor, climate change, the rights of street children or Syrian refugees.
In 2014 Mahienour El-Massry received the Ludovic Trarieux Prize, awarded annually to a lawyer who has distinguished himself in the defence of human rights. The prize was presented to her while she was already serving a 2 years prison sentence for “taking part in an unauthorized demonstration”. The support of the international legal community and the presentation of this prize has enabled Mahienour El-Massry to be released in September 2014 before completing her prison sentence.
Today Mahienour El-Massry is once again imprisoned in Al Qanatar women’s prison. She was arrested by police on September 22nd, 2019 in Cairo after attending interrogations of people who had demonstrated against President Al-Sisi. She remains in custody since her arrest.
The Observatory supports the candidacy of this Egyptian lawyer for the CCBE 2020 Award, the granting of which would provide her with some protection and give greater visibility to the struggle for the respect of fundamental rights in Egypt.
Ibrahim METAWALLY HEGAZY
Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy specialises in the defence of fundamental rights and is a member of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. Since after the disappearance of his son Abdelmoneim in 2013 during the bloody repression of public gatherings in Rabea Al-Adawiya and Nahda squares in Cairo, he works on the issue of enforced disappearances.
In 2016, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy founded the the Egyptian Association of Families of the Disappeared (EAFD), a network of people whose relatives have been victims of enforced or involuntary disappearances. The lawyer aslo regularly represents the families of victims of enforced disappearance in Egypt.
The organization registered 1300 cases throughout 2016 and 2017. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy contributed to the preparation of the complaint files that led the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to investigate numerous cases. The purpose is to highlight these disappearances in order to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities.
On September 10th, 2017, as he was about to fly to Geneva to meet with the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy was arrested at Cairo airport on suspicion of “financing and directing an organization created illegally and disseminating information undermining national security” (i.e. the EAFD).
His whereabouts remained unknown for two days. During this time the lawyer was subjected to physical and psychological torture, including electrocution.
Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy was then imprisoned in the high security section of Tora prison pending his trial. His family members and lawyers are not allowed to visit him. Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy reportedly does not have access to necessary medical care despite his critical health condition. The prison administration refuses to transfer him to a hospital even though his health condition requires it.
On October 14th, 2019, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy received a release order. However, he remained in detention until he was charged in a new case (n° 1470/2019) on November 5th 2019. He was charged with “being part of a terrorist group” and “financing of a terrorist group”.
This new charge appears to be a means of circumventing the maximum of two years for pre-trial detention prescribed by Egyptian law.
Still in detention, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy has so far never received any award recognizing his courage and his struggle for human rights. Such recognition would have a protective effect and would be a pledge of support from the entire legal profession.
Find the full application form HERE.