Egypt: ESCR-Net denounces the ongoing persecution of human rights organizations and defenders

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

As former Board Chair Hossam Bahgat faces renewed charges in connection with his human rights work, ESCR-Net expresses great concern over increasing restrictions against human rights groups and defenders in Egypt.

These restrictions include asset freezes, closure orders and application of baseless criminal charges. ESCR-Net underscores its concern about the risk of prosecution faced by 37 civil society organizations who were named by a fact-finding committee established in July of 2011 to examine the issue of foreign funding of civil society groups. The Network is also worried about the imposition of travel bans against several prominent human rights defenders, including Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), faces a prospective asset freeze by a Cairo Criminal Court on March 24. Among the charges brought against him (case No. 173) are receiving foreign funding for illegal purposes under the Penal Code and setting up an organization that is not registered in accordance to the Associations Law.  Several other well-established human rights groups in Egypt and their staff members are facing similar charges.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has been a longstanding member active in collective work across all major regions of the world, to advance and defend human rights. ESCR-Net has deeply appreciated the contributions of EIPR to advance the positive development and implementation of legal standards relating to economic and social rights, promote substantive equality for women and, generally, to promote economic and social justice worldwide. ESCR-Net is also grateful for the strong leadership of Hossam Bahgat who served as a Board Member for the past six years, completing his second term in December 2015, and who helped advance the Network’s efforts to make human rights and social justice a reality for all.

Consistent with international standards which Egypt is obligated to uphold, ESCR-Net calls on the Government of Egypt to lift the travel bans and asset freezes that have been arbitrarily imposed against human rights defenders and refrain from imposing new measures of this nature; put an end to harassment via investigations and other means of human rights organizations linked to their sources of funding; and ensure that all human rights defenders and organizations working in Egypt are able to carry out their work unimpeded.

For more information, please see here

Please also see the statement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued on 23 March 2016, here