Stop crackdown on human rights organizations in Egypt


Mr. Adly Mansour, Acting President of Egypt


Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of Interior

Mr. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Minister of Defense

Mr. Adel Abdel-Hamid, Minister of Justice

Mr. Mohamed Amin el-Mahdi, Minister of Transitional Justice



We write to express our grave concern regarding the recent raid of the office of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) at 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday 18 December 2013. We understand that six of the staff and volunteers of the ECESR were detained during the raid: Mostafa Eissa, Mahmoud Belal, Hossam Mohamed Nasr, Mahmoud El Sayed, Mohamed Adel and Sherif Mansour. According to reports we have received, the above-mentioned human rights defenders were allegedly mistreated during their detention, during which time they were also held in incommunicado for approximately nine hours. We understand that, subsequent to their arrest, five of the six detainees were released on the morning of December 19; while Mr. Mohamed Adel Fahmi remained detained at an unknown location.  Mohamed Adel was tried on Sunday, 22 December, and sentenced to 3 years in prison, and fined 50,000 EGP, on charges of demonstrating without notice. We further understand that the equipment and furniture of the Media Unit at the ECESR were destroyed and several computers were stolen during the raid, some of which were later returned.
We are concerned that this incident is indicative of a serious escalation in the harassment and intimidation, as well as legal restrictions, to which human rights defenders have been subject in Egypt. The individuals targeted in the raid have been producing a documentary about the strike by the Egyptian Iron and Steel Workers Union, which they intended to screen at a press conference the following day. ECESR together with several other organizations also recently presented a joint parallel report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights regarding the deteriorating conditions for workers and poor compliance with Egypt’s obligations related to the rights to health, education, housing, environment and food.
We recall that Egypt is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and has the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the right to freedom of opinion, expression and association. Egypt is also obligated to uphold the right to freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to liberty and security of person, freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention. Furthermore, Egypt is responsible for upholding the rights enshrined in  the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which recognizes the right of each person to promote the realization of human rights and provides protection “of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of” their rights as human rights defenders.
In light of this alarming incident, we wish to denounce the recent raid on the office of the ECESR and express our serious concern about the safety and well-being of Mohamed Adel. We collectively call on the Egyptian authorities to:
  • cease all intimidation and harassment of political opponents, activists and human rights defenders who are exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association;
  • launch an independent and impartial investigation into the raid on the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights and prosecute those responsible for the above-mentioned arbitrary detentions;
  • immediately release all individuals who have been detained in relation to their work as human rights defenders, and
  • undertake all possible steps, including repealing laws restricting the right to peaceful demonstrations and freedom of assembly and reforms of the security and justice systems, in order to guarantee the ability of all Egyptians – including human rights defenders – to enjoy free expression, assembly and opinion without fear of reprisal.
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